Former Allentown mayor gets 15 years in prison on corruption charges

Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski, pictured in this Thursday, July 27, 2017 file photo, announced his resignation days after being found guilty of federal corruption charges. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski, pictured in this Thursday, July 27, 2017 file photo, announced his resignation days after being found guilty of federal corruption charges. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced former Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski to serve 15 years in prison for trading city contracts for campaign cash.

Pawlowski asked U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sanchez for “mercy” and “compassion” for him and his family before the sentence was handed down. However, he did not apologize for his actions.

That bothered Sanchez.

“I don’t sense any remorse, no apologies, no contrition, despite the fact that there was overwhelming evidence in this case that he masterminded a pay-to-play scheme to pursue his ambition to become a U.S. Senator, ” said Sanchez.

Pawlowski, 53, was denied bail and ordered to begin his sentence immediately. He showed no emotion as he was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

Sanchez also ordered Pawlowski to pay $93,749 in restitution, nearly the same amount he earned as mayor at the time of his conviction. About a third of that total will go to the city of Allentown.

Pawlowski, who has maintained his innocence since he was charged, vows to appeal his sentence from prison. His attorney, Jack McMahon, called his client’s sentence “excessive and “cruel.”

“He lost his career. He’s lost his standing in the community. He’s lost his pension, his livelihood. And he’s going to prison,” said McMahon during the hearing.

It’s a steep fall for a man credited — and beloved — for helping transform Allentown, the state’s third largest city, into “a vibrant and thriving place” full of new development instead of crime. A man who was re-elected in November 2017 despite being indicted that July.

In March, a jury convicted Pawlowski on 47 counts of corruption, including bribery, extortion, and lying to federal agents.

The five-week case centered around nine schemes prosecutors said Pawlowski orchestrated while trying to raise $1 million for his failed U.S. Senate campaign in 2015.

“He squandered the public’s goodwill for his own ambition. It recognized no limits and, in this case, recognized no law,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Wzorek, who prosecuted the case.

Allentown attorney Scott Allinson, Pawlowski’s co-defendant, was also convicted on two counts of conspiracy and bribery.

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