Jurors must decide whether Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski sold his office to campaign donors as a prosecutor alleged in court Tuesday, calling him the mastermind of a pay-to-play scheme that infested Pennsylvania’s third-largest city.
Pawlowski traded city contracts for campaign cash that funded his unsuccessful runs for governor and U.S. Senate, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Morgan told jurors in her closing argument.
“Ed Pawlowski was not acting for the people. He was acting for himself,” said Morgan, outlining nine alleged bribery schemes involving the Democratic mayor. She called Pawlowski a liar who thinks he can “talk his way out of anything.”
The mayor’s political consultants cooperated with the government and recorded hundreds of conversations with him, many of which were played for the jury during the trial. Several city workers and vendors who pleaded guilty testified against Pawlowski.
His attorney, Jack McMahon, ridiculed the government’s case as much ado about nothing, saying it’s not unusual for a politician to solicit campaign contributions from government contractors. He called Pawlowski “100 percent innocent.”
“There is not one tape in thousands of hours with the inner circle people of my client ever, ever engaging in quid pro quo or offering up contracts for campaign contributions,” McMahon said in his closing argument. “How can this be?”
The mayor, who won re-election while under indictment and began his fourth term last month, took the stand in his own defense and insisted he had done nothing wrong.
Numerous charges against him include fraud, bribery, attempted extortion and lying to the FBI. Pawlowski’s co-defendant, Allentown lawyer Scott Allinson, is charged with conspiracy and bribery. Allinson has pleaded not guilty.
The jury is scheduled to begin deliberating Wednesday.