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September 10, 09

NEWS / Developer Sentenced to 30 Months for Bribing Councilmans Former Aide

Developer Sentenced to 30 Months for Bribing Councilman’s Former Aide

PHILADELPHIA—Ravinder Chawla, 59, of Abington, Pennsylvania, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison and a $25,000 fine for conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud, honest services mail fraud, and mail fraud, announced United States Attorney Michael L. Levy. Chawla, who is a real estate developer, was convicted at trial last February with Christopher Wright, who was serving as chief of staff to a Philadelphia city council member when he committed his crimes. Chawla and another co-defendant, attorney Andrew Teitelman, gave Wright a free apartment and free legal services, valued at more than $20,000, in exchange for special treatment.

In May 2006, Chawla and Teitelman, aware that Wright needed a place to live because of marital and financial difficulties, offered him the opportunity to live rent-free in a Delancey Street apartment in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square area; an offer which Wright accepted. Chawla and Teitelman then implemented a scheme to place Wright in the apartment, which came with a free parking space, by playing the real estate version of a “shell game” with sellers and buyers of the building to ensure that Wright continued to live rent-free. In March 2007, Wright sent an e-mail about a real estate project to Ravinder Chawla and signed it, “Your Public Servant.”

In rendering his sentence, United States District Court Judge Eduardo Robreno said that the central lesson of this case and the message that must be sent is that if you are a developer and bribe a public official, you will go to jail. Teitelman’s sentencing hearing is not yet scheduled.




AnnaMaria Realbuto
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Kateryna Melnychenko
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Rani Payne
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