U.S. corruption indictment of Pennsylvania mayor unsealed

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PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – The longtime mayor of Allentown, the third largest city in Pennsylvania, has been charged with corruption in a pay-for-play scheme, according to a federal indictment unsealed on Wednesday.

Edwin Pawlowski, a Democrat who is running for re-election to a fourth term as mayor, was among three people accused of bribery, extortion, wire fraud and other charges in a 55-count indictment. He is the latest city official ensnared in a broad federal probe that has seen seven convictions already.

The 60-page indictment was unsealed on Wednesday just hours before the U.S. Attorney’s office in Philadelphia was scheduled to discuss the charges at a 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT) news conference.

Pawlowski was previously implicated in a scheme to steer contracts to at least one company whose executives had contributed thousands of dollars to the mayor’s political action committee (PAC), according to court papers.

In March, the eastern Pennsylvania city’s former managing director, Francis Dougherty, pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges.

Pawlowski was not named in court papers at that time, but he matched the description of “Public Official #3” with whom Dougherty allegedly conspired to award a $3 million street lighting contract to a company whose leaders had donated to the mayor’s PAC.

The mayor was expected to address the charges at a news conference later on Wednesday. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Wednesday’s indictment also named as defendants Scott Allison, an attorney from Allentown, and James Hickey, a business consultant.

Editing by Barbara Goldberg and G Crosse