- Associated Press - Monday, January 12, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Federal prosecutors investigating U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah are seeking seven years of his private emails, but a defense lawyer asked a U.S. appeals court on Monday to block the bid.

The case has been filed under seal, and the parties in open court on Monday referred to the congressman as John Smith. However, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the facts of the case and the lawyers involved match those in the long-running probe of Fattah, an 11-term Philadelphia Democrat.

Two of Fattah’s political associates have pleaded guilty to crimes involving his failed 2007 mayoral bid, and his son has been charged by the same prosecutors in a separate case.

Defense lawyer Luther Weaver III referred to Fattah in court Monday as a “subject” of the investigation but not a “target.” The distinction suggests Fattah has not gotten a target letter, typically sent by authorities shortly before someone is indicted.

U.S. Attorney Robert Zauzmer has asked the court to expedite its decision because of time-sensitive issues such as the statute of limitations for filing charges. The docket indicates that U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond in August approved the government subpoena involving the congressman’s G-mail account. The appeals court has stayed that decision amid Fattah’s appeal.

Earlier last year, Fattah, 58, told House leaders that he was fighting a subpoena seeking documents from his congressional offices.

The Inquirer has reported that federal investigators have looked at grants that Fattah sponsored for nonprofit organizations run by his former congressional staff aides.

Weaver did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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