Former Rendell aide pleads guilty in FBI sting

    A onetime top aide to former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell has pleaded guilty in an FBI sting, but authorities aren’t revealing any more information about an operation in which agents set up a fake company to investigate allegations of public corruption in Pennsylvania.

    John Estey said little in federal court in Harrisburg on Tuesday as he pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

    A plea agreement filed last month says Estey told agents in 2011 that lawmakers would help the fake company in exchange for $20,000 in campaign contributions.

    Agents first approached Estey in 2009, after he had left Rendell’s administration.

    The plea agreement says Estey faces a maximum sentence of 20 years, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Consiglio told Judge John E. Jones that prosecutors will recommend a lighter sentence if Estey accepts responsibility.

    No sentencing date was set. Former federal prosecutors say the FBI’s approach suggests there’ll be more arrests.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.