Pawlowski Campaign Manager, Confidant Pleads Guilty
Mike Fleck, campaign manager for Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski’s short-lived U.S. Senate bid, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion and bribery offenses and one count of tax evasion, Emily Opilo and Peter Hall of the Morning Call report.
Fleck is facing up to 10 years in federal prison, though he has been cooperating with the FBI’s investigation of old-school pay-to-play contracting practices in Allentown city government.
Fleck’s plea could have Pawlowski looking over his shoulder with court documents linking a “Public Official No. 3” to the political corruption. Public Official No. 3 has run state and federal campaigns, according to court documents, a description that would only match Pawlowski, though prosecutors have yet to name the official.
In early July 2015, the FBI raided Allentown City Hill looking for contracts dating back over a decade. Just hours before the raid, Pawlowski discovered his best friend, Fleck, was wearing a wire for the agency.
Only a few days later, Pawlowski suspended his fledgling U.S. Senate campaign.
Though Mayor Pawlowski remains in office, it is still unclear whether he will serve out his term, with the Allentown City Council urging him to resign, or if he will face federal charges.
Along with Fleck, former assistant solicitor Dale Wiles and former finance director Gary Strathearn have pleaded guilty for roles in the kickback scheme, as well as former Allentown City Controller Mary Ellen Koval.
Allentown Council President Ray O’Connell is calling on Pawlowski to resign once again in the wake of Fleck’s plea.
“Each day this web becomes more entangled,” O’Connell told the Morning Call. “Each day the cloud over the city becomes darker. Each day as we move forward, the uncertainty grows in the ability of the mayor to lead this city.”