When reporting the news, we don’t always get to say that the good guys win, but today is an exception. We can report that the people have won at least one battle with the misconduct of power-hungry politicians, and we will be a little safer for it. The politician is Mayor Ed Pawlowski from Allentown, PA, and the details of his case will make you very happy that he’ll soon be behind bars.
It’s always sad on a human level when someone has to be imprisoned. However, there are times when it’s for the greater good, and this seems to be one of those times. Pawlowski was found guilty of almost 50 corruption charges and could face decades in prison for his less than legal activities.
Some people who are caught red-handed are taken aback or caught off guard while in office, but that wasn’t the case with Pawlowski. He knew that this inditement would be coming down before his last election, but he decided to run anyway. The money was favorable, so he decided to gamble with it. Morning Call reports that this calls an end to his 12-year career in politics:
“A jury found Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski guilty Thursday on nearly all charges in his federal pay-to-play trial, meaning he will have to relinquish office after he is sentenced — a crushing end to a 12-year career at the helm of a long-distressed city in the midst of revival.
He was found guilty of conspiracy and multiple counts of bribery, attempted extortion, false statements to federal officials, honest services fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud.
All are felonies and some of the counts carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison although his actual sentence is likely to be shorter. Pawlowski remains free on bond. No sentencing date has been set.
Pawlowski’s co-defendant, Allentown lawyer Scott Allinson, also was convicted, on two counts of conspiracy and bribery.
Pawlowski’s head sank as the verdict was read one count at a time, and later cried as his mother-in-law consoled him. His wife, Lisa, closed her eyes as the guilty counts mounted, then left the courtroom crying shortly after 6 p.m. She collapsed just outside the doors and was treated in a conference room, but recovered and later left the courthouse with her husband.
Pawlowski’s attorney, Jack McMahon, briefly left the courtroom, then returned and shook hands with FBI Special Agent Scott Curtis.
‘Good job, good job,’ McMahon said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Wzorek said he and his co-prosecutor, Michelle Morgan, were thrilled with the outcome. They added that Pawlowski should ‘do the right thing.’ Asked if that meant the mayor should resign, Wzorek declined to elaborate.The verdict should send a message to every official in Pennsylvania, he said.
‘This type of behavior is not acceptable,’ Wzorek said. ‘If they don’t have it of their own mind to think this is unacceptable, we will be watching, and the FBI will be doing investigations and will root out corruption.’”
The disturbing part of this case is that when you read it, it’s almost like they consider the whole thing to be a game. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. In this case, Pawlowski overplayed his hand. That’s not how most of us see our politicians though. We consider it to be of the utmost importance for our elected officials to do for us what we should do if we were there.
The reason we elect based on a majority is in hopes that the people we communally decide on will do what’s best for the community. Maybe we won’t always agree with them, but as long as it’s someone’s best effort, we can overlook some of it. What we can’t ignore is the continued exploitation of one’s position for personal gain. Yes, we feel bad for a man who sobs, and for his wife while she collapses at the idea of living out the rest of her life without him. But we also feel bad for the people of his constituency who he stabbed in the back. We can’t let feelings run the show, and there has to be an adherence to the law. Otherwise, we have anarchy.
Here are more details from our source about Pawlowski’s case:
“Jurors in the case, who have not been publicly identified, left without comment afterward in a van provided by the government. They came from seven counties.
McMahon said he plans to pursue motions asking Sanchez to overturn the convictions on the basis of insufficient evidence, requests that both Pawlowski and Allinson made at the conclusion of the government’s case. Sanchez did not rule on the motions at the time but said the defendants are free to raise them again after the verdict.
‘I still think there’s some significant legal issues as to whether these are crimes or not, but that’s to be determined,’ McMahon said.
Weber said Pawlowski is likely to face 5-10 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. Under that system, additional points are added for aggravating circumstances and extend a defendant’s sentence. Several such circumstances are likely to apply to Pawlowski, Weber said, including his abuse of a position of trust and the fact that he took the witness stand and the jury did not believe him.
Multiple witnesses — developers, engineers, political operatives, City Hall staffers and former members of the mayor’s Cabinet — testified about Pawlowski’s unsuccessful campaigns for governor and U.S. Senate, his focus on raising money to prove himself a viable candidate and pressure placed on city officials to benefit people who helped fill his war chest.
Their testimony was brought to life by dozens of clandestine recordings of phone calls, meetings and conversations in cars, bars, elevators and even a restroom, made by his campaign manager, Mike Fleck, and Fleck’s employee, Sam Ruchlewicz, both of whom wore wires and consented to have their phone calls recorded.