PHILADELPHIA – A prominent Muslim cleric on Monday was sentenced to more than seven years in prison on racketeering and other charges, the latest in a string of convictions stemming from the FBI's sweeping probe of municipal corruption.
Prosecutors said that Shamsud-din Ali (search), 67, used his political connections to obtain dubious loans, donations and city contracts. In addition to his 87-month sentence, Ali was ordered to pay restitution. He was released pending an appeal.
The investigation of the so-called "pay to play" culture in Philadelphia's city government has led to the convictions and guilty pleas for more than a dozen people, including a former city treasurer, two bank executives and several business owners seeking city contracts.
The probe became public when police discovered an FBI bug in Mayor John F. Street (search)'s office. The mayor has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged.
Ali, the leader of a west Philadelphia mosque, was charged with 34 counts. After six days of deliberations, jurors convicted him in June of 22 counts, including racketeering.
According to prosecutors, he and his wife, Faridah, used the Muslim school they ran as a private piggy bank, soliciting donations and public education funds for adult education classes that were never held. The Alis had at least five family members on the payroll, including two adult children who lived out of state.
Faridah Ali (search) was convicted and sentenced to a year of house arrest on related charges.