Prosecutors plan to call dozens of witnesses in the corruption case of Allentown, Pa., Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

Both sides in Pawlowski's case expect his trial to start no earlier than January.

“Government counsel and defense counsel submit that a trial commencing on or about Jan. 10, 2018, would allow all counsel to be prepared for trial,” said Judge Juan Sánchez of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, according to court documents.

Pawlowski, a former candidate for Pennsylvania governor and the U.S. Senate, pleaded not guilty on July 27 to 55 charges related to an alleged pay-for-play scheme involving city contracts and other business.

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski
Allentown, Pa., Mayor Ed Pawlowski pleaded not guilty to pay-for-play charges. Pawlowski campaign

Pawlowski is running for re-election to a fourth term in Pennsylvania’s third-largest city and has resisted calls from some City Council members to resign. He won the Democratic primary in May and will face Republican Nat Hyman in the general election in November.

The indictment charges Pawlowski and co-defendants Scott Allinson, a lawyer, and James Hickey, a business consultant, with conspiracy, bribery, Hobbs Act extortion, mail fraud, wire fraud, honest services mail fraud, honest services wire fraud, Travel Act bribery and false statements.

According to court papers, the government expects to call between 40 and 50 witnesses.

The case “is so unusual and so complex due to the nature of the prosecution, the number of defendants, the number of witnesses, and the voluminous discovery, that it is unreasonable to expect adequate preparation for pretrial proceedings or the trial itself within the time limits established by the Speedy Trial Act,” said Sánchez.

“Discovery is voluminous, containing terabytes of material, including hundreds of intercepted phone calls and meetings and thousands of printed pages.”

According to the 60-page grand jury indictment, Pawlowski “knowingly devised and participated in a scheme and artifice to defraud and deprive the citizens of the City of Allentown of their right to the honest services of the mayor of Allentown.”

Two economic development initiatives in Allentown won The Bond Buyer’s Deal of the Year award in 2013.

The city at the time sold $224.4 million in bonds to finance the construction of a downtown business district, centered around an 8,500-seat arena that is home to the minor-league hockey Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

And to help seal a steep 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.

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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.”