Ex-Allentown mayor’s sentencing reset again

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Former Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski's sentencing on federal corruption charges has been rescheduled for a second time in Pennsylvania, to Oct. 23 from Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sánchez will impose the sentencing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Allentown. Sánchez had already postponed a June sentencing.

A jury on March 1 convicted Pawlowski after a six-week trial on 47 of 54 counts that focused on a pay-for-play scheme involving city contracts and other business.

Pawlowski, 52, a Chicago native and a former candidate for Pennsylvania governor, resigned on March 9, ending a 12-year reign in which corruption ultimately eclipsed large-scale economic development as his legacy.

Ray O’Connell, former Allentown City Council president and a former school administrator in the city, is filling out Pawlowski's term, which runs through 2019.

Pawlowski's attorney, Jack McMahon, filed court papers on Friday requesting that Pawlowski remain free on bail pending his appeal. Sánchez, McMahon and prosecutors held a conference call Tuesday that was closed to the public.

“Mr. Pawlowski is clearly not a candidate to flee the jurisdiction,” McMahon said in court papers filed Friday. “Mr. Pawlowski has a home, a wife and two children in Allentown. … [He] has no place to flee to nor does he have the money and assets to do so even if he were so [inclined].”

Prosecutors are seeking a 13-to-15 year minimum sentence, while McMahon has argued for fewer than 10.

Pawlowski's initiatives included two deals that, considered together, won The Bond Buyer’s Northeast Deal of the Year award in 2013.

The Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority sold $224.4 million in bonds to finance the construction of a downtown business district, centered around an 8,500-seat arena, the PPL Center.

To help fund a large unfunded pension liability, Allentown leased its water and sewer system to the quasi-public Lehigh County Authority, which sold $308 million of bonds to finance the transaction.

An appeals court last Thursday ordered Pawlowski’s co-defendant, Scott Allinson, released from a Morgantown, West Virginia, prison while appealing his conviction. He received a two-year sentence in June.

A parallel pay-to-play investigation resulted in the conviction in Philadelphia last week of former Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer on 11 corruption charges after a two-week trial. Sánchez also presided over that case. The judge expects to impose sentencing early next year.

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Corruption Ed Pawlowski City of Allentown, PA Pennsylvania