'A 'For Sale' Sign at City Hall': FBI Indicts 2 PA Dem Mayors in Pay-to-Play Probe
Two Democratic Pennsylvania mayors were indicted Wednesday as part of a wide-ranging FBI corruption probe.
The mayors of Reading and Allentown - the state's third-largest city - were named among the defendants in the five-person indictment.
Acting U.S. Attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania Louis Lappen said Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski (D) was charged with 14 counts relating to running a pay-to-play scheme, and other offenses.
Lappen said Pawlowski and former Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer (D) "essentially put up a 'for sale' sign in front of their city halls to sell city work to the highest bidder," Lappen said, according to WFMZ-69 News.
One of the incidents Pawlowski is accused of orchestrating involved the sale of city contracts.
When a contract for the collection of delinquent city taxes was up for bid, Pawlowski and others allegedly engineered the system to direct the bids to his chosen firm
Lappen said Pawlowski wanted to direct that 2013 contract to a company that provided "a steady stream of benefits" to him, which included campaign contributions and Philadelphia Eagles tickets.
The indictment said that Pawlowski later attended a 2014 Eagles playoff game and ate dinner at a pricey steakhouse, courtesy of a "Company #4."
Spencer is accused of bribery, conspiracy, and honest services fraud along with other Reading officials, according to the indictment.
In what Lappen called an "astounding act of irony," Spencer allegedly pressured City Council President Francisco Acosta (D) to introduce a bill repealing an anti-corruption statute.
$1800 was later allegedly donated to Acosta's wife Rebecca, who was running for a judgeship.
Mike Fleck, who managed Spencer's mayoral campaign and also assisted Pawlowski, was also charged in the probe.
Pawlowski remained confident despite the allegations, telling the Allentown Morning Call he will continue to run for a fourth term.
In a statement, Pawlowski dismissed the allegations, saying he "faithfully and passionately served the residents of Allentown."
"I have done nothing wrong," he said. "Nor have I personally accepted a dime beyond my salary as mayor."
Pawlowski said he regretted putting his trust in Fleck, a former family friend he called a "manipulative thief and historical liar."
Spencer's lawyer, Geoffrey Johnson, told WFMZ he had no further comment on the allegations other than the fact he is reviewing them.
Thus far, nine other individuals have pleaded guilty in connection with the federal probe.
Allentown and Reading are about 100 miles west of New York City.