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Allentown mayor, former Reading mayor among those indicted on corruption charges

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LEHIGH COUNTY, Pa. — Two eastern Pennsylvania cities were at the center of a federal probe into allegations of corruption.

Today, the indictments were unsealed.

Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski and former Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer have been charged with multiple counts of bribery and fraud, according to indictment documents.

Pawlowski, who has served as mayor since January 2006, allegedly promised vendors contracts with the City of Allentown if they made campaign contributions. Indictment documents state that the Democrat deleted emails, and advised his campaign operatives to do the same, that contained communication with vendors. Pawlowski and his operatives also “swept” their offices for listening devices during this time.

These incidents were said to have occurred between January 2012 and July 2015.

Spencer, Reading’s mayor from January 2012 to January 2016, is accused of a pay-to-play scheme in regards to his re-election campaign in 2015.

The indictment says that businesses would receive favorable treatment from Spencer if they were to contribute to his campaign.

Spencer also directed campaign operatives to offer City Council President Francisco Acosta a bribe, in the form or campaign contributions, to amend or repeal a section of Reading’s Code of Ethics related to contribution limitations, the documents say. The Democrat wanted Acosta to amend or repeal the section in advance of the May 2015 primary election as he already exceeded contributions for that calendar year.

The campaign contributions bribe were to be made to Acosta’s wife, Rebecca, who was campaigning herself for an elected position as a district justice.

Indictment documents state that the city council president agreed to use his position to propose legislation to amend or repeal the section.