Ed Pawlowski, who resigned as Allentown, Pa., mayor after his conviction on 47 federal corruption counts, will face sentencing in late June.

Pawlowski left office at 5 p.m. Friday, ending a 12-year reign in which corruption ultimately eclipsed large-scale economic development as his legacy. He said he resigned “in the best interests of the city.”

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski
“I’m very proud of the part that I’ve played in the revitalization and the massive rebuilding of this great city,” said former Allentown, Pa., Mayor Ed Pawlowski. Pawlowski campaign

Judge Juan Sanchez of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Allentown will impose the sentence on June 27. A jury on March 1, after a six-week trial, convicted Pawlowski on 47 of 54 counts that focused on a pay-for-play scheme involving city contracts and other business.

“I’m very proud of the part that I’ve played in the revitalization and the massive rebuilding of this great city,” the mayor said outside his home.

The City Council has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday night. By home-rule charter, council President Roger MacLean is acting mayor. Within 30 days, the council must choose someone to fill out the remaining two years of Pawlowski’s term, which will end after the November 2019 municipal election.

Pawlowski, 52, a Chicago native and former candidate for Pennsylvania governor and the U.S. Senate, won a fourth term in November. Allentown is the 120,000-population seat of Lehigh County.

If the council cannot choose a mayor, the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas would name the successor.

The jury also convicted Allentown lawyer Scott Allinson on two counts of conspiracy and bribery.

Pawlowski’s attorney, Jack McMahon, said an appeal was possible.

“There are still pending some Rule 29 motions which are judgments of acquittal that have held under advisement by the judge,” McMahon told reporters. “I’m sure they’ll be litigated.”

Rule 29 of the federal rules of criminal procedure enables a defendant to move for a judgment of acquittal of any offense for which the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction. “That’s the next step in front of us legally,” said McMahon.

Pawlowski, first elected in 2005, launched several economic development initiatives in what he said was once a “dying, rust-belt city,” Two deals, 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.

The federal investigation targeted officials in Allentown and Reading, Pa.; 13 have pleaded guilty. Former Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer and former Reading school board member Rebecca Acosta are scheduled to stand trial in May. They face multiple counts of conspiracy bribery and fraud.

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Paul Burton

Paul Burton

Paul Burton is the Northeast Regional Editor for The Bond Buyer and the author of the book "Tales from the Newsrooms." He is a sought-after public speaker and has appeared on radio and TV shows, including former CBS News White House correspondent Sharyl Attkisson’s public-affairs program, “Full Measure.”