timberland boots Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski will his soul
A federal prosecutor described Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski during opening statements in his corruption trial as an ambitious politician who held the power of his office over those who wanted to do business with the city to force them to make contributions to his campaign funds. Attorney Anthony Wzorek said. Senate in 2014, he knew he needed lots of money to appear to be a viable candidate, so he shook down people and companies doing business with the city.
“If you wanted a contract with the city of Allentown under Mayor Ed Pawlowski, you needed to pay,” Wzorek said.
Prosecutors began their case by calling Allentown attorney Donald Wieand, who testified that he had defended the city in lawsuits against the police department for about 25 years before the work began to dry up. He described Pawlowski as “the most aggressive fundraiser in the Lehigh Valley,” and recalled the mayor personally approaching him at an event and asking for a $1,000 donation from his firm, Stevens Lee.
“It was just a relentless fundraising machine he seemed to be trying to put together,” Wieand said.
Wieand testified about receiving a telephone call in June 2015 from a telephone number he didn’t recognize. Answering it, he didn’t recognize the voice on the other end as Pawlowski’s until the mayor identified himself. Pawlowski told Wieand he was going to get a call from the city solicitor, Susan Wild.
“My first reaction was, ‘Well that’s good, I’m going to get some legal work from the city,'” Wieand said.
Then Pawlowski pitched his run for Senate, telling Wieand he believed he could win the Democratic primary and then ride Hillary Clinton’s coattails to defeat Sen. Pat Toomey in the November 2016 election. Wieand testified it was then he realized there were strings attached.
Pawlowski asked him for a $1,000 contribution and Wieand agreed, “because if I said no, I would never get that call from Susan Wild,” he testified.
“My initial reaction was I was angry. I was angry at him for putting me in that position. I was angry at myself for not dodging his question,” Wieand said.
Taking his turn before the jury, Pawlowski’s defense attorney, Jack McMahon, told jurors the panel it would see Pawlowski as a moral and ethical person who did things by the book. The government’s case against Pawlowski was built on the cooperation of two of Pawlowski’s consultants, Mike Fleck and Sam Ruchlewicz, who were themselves, McMahon told jurors, morally bankrupt.
“This case is real simple. It’s about Fleck and Ruchlewicz, two crooks,
two peas in a pod This case is the Mike and Sam show and we’re all just watching it, sucked in like Mayor Pawlowski,” McMahon said.
McMahon said Pawlowksi would take the witness stand and “bare his soul,” to prove his innocence.
McMahon said Pawlowski plans to testify even though he doesn’t have to. He said his client will “bare his soul.”
He pointed to a series of statements from Fleck as federal agents began their investigation, first tapping his phone, then inducing Ruchlewicz and later Fleck himself to wear body wires to record Pawlowski.
“No seriously, don’t ever you know, we’re tallking candidly here. Don’t ever talk about that stuff with the mayor, he’ll go fing nuts. Seriously. He’s straight as they come,” Fleck told an undercover agent in the case, McMahon told jurors.
He displayed that and other quotes on video screens next to photographs of Fleck.
“The man who’s saying this, Mr. Fleck, is with him every single day. Knows him inside and out,” McMahon said.
With a jury in place, the federal criminal trial for Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowskihasshifted to the Queen City, where opening statements for both the prosecution and defense began Monday.
“His reaction was to fold up like a cheap tent. He agreed right then and there to wear a wire,” McMahon said.
William Winning, a defense attorney for Pawlowski’s codefendant Scott Allinson, told jurors they would hear that it was Fleck and Ruchlewicz who repeatedly brought up the subject of money in meetings with Allinson, an attorney with Norris McLaughlin Marcus.
“Notice and observe how they are incessantly almost relentlessly asking Scott and his firm to make campaign contributions,” Winning said, telling jurors they would hear that Fleck and Ruchlewicz met with Allinson in bars and plied him with alcohol in attempts to get him to cross the line.
McMahon also led jurors through nine schemes in which Pawlowski is alleged to have demanded money from city vendors, telling them the tapes of Fleck and Ruchlewicz will make clear there was no explicit agreement between Pawlowski and his campaign donors. That’s an element prosecutors must prove in a bribery or extortion case involving campaign contributions, because the right to support a candidate is protected by the First Amendment, McMahon told jurors.
In the one episode not involving campaign contributions, when Pawlowski allegedly demanded tickets to a 2014 Eagles playoff game and a steak house dinner, it was actually Fleck who wanted them to reward employees, McMahon said.
“When you see the reality of the Eagles tickets you’ll come back to the ‘them’ that I’ve been saying all along. This is the Sam and Mike show,” McMahon said.