What to Know
- Vaughn Spencer was convicted in August on conspiracy and bribery charges in a federal pay-to-play case.
- Prosecutors accused Spencer of promising engineering contracts to companies that agreed to provide campaign contributions.
- He was also convicted of attempting to bribe a former City Council president in order to try to get an anti-pay-to-play ordinance repealed
The former mayor of Reading, Pennsylvania, was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in prison for trading city contracts for campaign contributions.
"I let ambition take over, and I'm truly sorry," a tearful Vaughn Spencer told a federal judge in Philadelphia.
Spencer, the Democratic mayor of Reading from 2012 until his failed reelection bid in 2015, was also ordered to pay a $35,000 fine and to serve three years on supervised release after serving his sentence.
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He must report to prison June 13.
Spencer, 71, was convicted of bribery and conspiracy charges as part of a federal pay-to-play investigation that led to raids of two city halls a week apart.
Federal prosecutors had sought a sentence of 10 to 12 years in prison. His attorney asked for leniency Wednesday, saying it was Spencer's campaign advisers who led the scheme.
Prosecutors said Spencer promised engineering contracts to companies that agreed to provide campaign contributions and directed contracts to past donors to ensure they kept supporting his reelection efforts.
Spencer "repeatedly engineered quid pro quos meant to pad his campaign coffers," U.S. Attorney William McSwain said previously.
He was also convicted of attempting to bribe former City Council President Francisco Acosta in order to try to get an anti-pay-to-play ordinance repealed in Reading, the fifth largest city in Pennsylvania. He agreed to give Acosta's wife a contribution for her campaign in a judge's race if the ordinance were abolished. The ex-council president was previously sentenced to two years in prison for taking the bribe.
Federal investigators raided city halls in Reading and Allentown in 2015 in an investigation of pay-to-play schemes that also ensnared then-Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. Pawlowski was sentenced in October to 15 years in prison for rigging municipal contracts in order to raise money for his political campaigns for higher office.
More than a dozen officials have been convicted so far in the plots.