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Indictments Accuse Allentown Mayor, Former Reading Mayor Taking Part In Pay-To-Play Scheme

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) -- A federal indictment was handed down against the mayor of Allentown and former mayor of Reading on Wednesday.

The indictments accuse Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and former Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer, both Democrats, of taking part in a pay-to-play scheme. They are now dealing with dozens of counts of bribery and fraud charges for allegedly trading city contracts in exchange for campaign funds.

Vaughn Spencer
Former Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer. (credit: Reading Eagle)

The U.S. Attorney's Office said during a press conference that Pawlowski and Spencer "essentially put up a for sale sign" in Allentown and Reading.

"Both indictments charge the mayors with wide-ranging corruption in the cities they had promised to serve with integrity. The indictments allege that the mayors repeatedly abused the trust of the citizens of Allentown and Reading by steering contracts and other work to companies and entities in exchange for political contributions," said acting United States Attorney Louis Lappen.

The ongoing investigation into both mayors became public in 2015 when FBI agents raided City Hall in Allentown and Reading, as well as the homes of Pawlowski and Spencer.

The indictments accuse Pawlowski and Spencer of running widespread pay-to-play schemes that benefited them personally and politically.

Lappen said Pawlowski doled out contracts to those who gave him campaign contributions and set up fundraisers.

Lappen also said Spencer bribed Reading's City Council president to repeal an anti-corruption statute.

Ed Pawlowski
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. (credit: Brad Segall)

During a Wednesday afternoon news conference, Pawlowski said he has done nothing wrong and that he will not resign.

"I have a job to do and I will continue to do it and that includes my candidacy for re-election," said Pawlowski.

Pawlowski said the only thing he has ever done wrong was to trust his former campaign manager Michael Fleck, who also ran Spencer's campaign.


The criminal case stems from an investigation that began in 2013 and which led to charges against a slew of lower-ranking city officials and contractors in a pay-to-play scandal.

Five defendants were named in this indictment, including public and school officials, along with businessmen.

Part of his alleged scheme involved former Reading School District official Rebecca Acosta and an energy-saving contract for the city schools. The school district says those contracts have since been rescinded.

Eleven people have pleaded guilty in the investigation.

CBS3's Natasha Brown and Alicia Nieves contributed to this report.

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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