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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ramzi Haddad First to Fall in Allentown Pay-to-Play Investigation

Ramzi Haddad, an entrepreneur whose name regularly appears on campaign finance reports, is the first to fall in Allentown's pay-to-play investigation. This is what defeeral prosecutors have to say. Public Official #3 is obviously Edwin Pawlowski, the Allentown Mayor who was ruinning for the U.S. Senate.

PHILADELPHIA - Ramzi Haddad, 45, of Bethlehem, PA, pleaded guilty today to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery offenses, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. After accepting Haddad’s guilty plea, U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sanchez scheduling a sentencing hearing for December 18, 2015.

During the guilty plea hearing, Haddad admitted the following:

The defendant was an entrepreneur who had business interests in Allentown, including potential contracts with the City of Allentown and the actual and prospective ownership of properties which were regulated and overseen by governing authorities in Allentown, including Public Official #3, who represented the City through an elective office. Public Official #3 aspired to win election to a statewide elective office. To achieve this goal, Public Official #3 knowingly sought campaign contributions in exchange for official actions that he took, attempted to take, and caused and attempted to cause the City of Allentown to take.

After repeated dealings with Public Official #3, the defendant concluded that he was intentionally acting against the defendant’s economic interests while favoring the economic interests of Public Official #3’s major donors and political allies. Concerned that Public Official #3 would otherwise interfere with and block his projects in Allentown, the defendant further concluded that the only way to receive a “fair shake” from Public Official #3 and public officials subordinate to him was to give Public Official #3 items of value, including food, drinks, and campaign contributions. Consequently, the defendant agreed to make contributions to the various campaigns of Public Official #3 when Public Official #3 or his campaign staff solicited campaign contributions. By December 2014, the defendant had explicitly agreed to give campaign contributions to Public Official #3 in exchange for certain official actions that the defendant expected from the City of Allentown. Over the course of the next few months, the defendant made numerous donations in exchange for certain official actions that he expected from the City of Allentown.

On April 17, 2015, Public Official #3 formally announced his candidacy for another elective office, this time for a position in federal government, during a campaign finance reporting period which would end on June 30, 2015. Before making this announcement, Public Official #3 had told the defendant about his plan to run for the federal office, explained his strategy of maximizing contributions prior to the end of the June 30 reporting period, and asked the defendant to raise money for the federal campaign by bundling his own contribution with the contributions of others. The defendant ultimately agreed to raise $25,000 for Public Official #3’s federal campaign before the June 30 deadline.

On May 18, 2015, Public Official #3 traveled from Allentown to New York City in order to meet with the defendant and discuss the official “help” that Public Official #3 could provide in return for the contributions that the defendant would raise for Public Official #3’s federal campaign. In consideration for the defendant’s fundraising commitment, Public Official #3 agreed to intervene with municipal inspections of one of the defendant’s buildings in Allentown.

On June 29, 2015, the defendant delivered to Public Official #3 approximately $15,000 in checks, all made payable to the federal campaign. Public Official #3 reminded the defendant of his pledge to raise a total of $25,000, advised that he bundle additional checks and “back date” them to a date prior to June 30, 2015, and restated his own ability to take official action which could affect the defendant. The next day, the defendant delivered to Public Official #3’s campaign staff two checks, totaling $6,500, both made payable to Public Official #3’s federal campaign. These checks were intended to replace a previous check which the defendant had delivered to Public Official #3 the day before.

As part of his agreement with Public Official #3, the defendant, at Public Official #3’s request, also paid for the food and beverage bills when the two met to discuss the defendant’s business interests. During the course of exchanging campaign contributions for official action by Public Official #3, the defendant and Public Official #3 made numerous interstate phone calls and traveled between states, typically between New York and Pennsylvania. Public Official #3 took numerous steps to destroy or avoid creating any records that would show a linkage between his official actions and campaign contributions from donors such as the defendant. For example, on June 29, 2015, Public Official #3 instructed the defendant to immediately delete from his mobile telephone all text messages constituting evidence of the defendant discussing potential municipal contracts with Public Official #3’s campaign staff.

Haddad faces a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Allentown Resident Agency, the Pennsylvania State Police, and IRS Criminal Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Joe Khan and Nancy Beam Winter.

You can read the criminal information here.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sure SOUNDS like Pawlowski did something wrong!

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

OMG. Say it isn't so Ed.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet FedEd is on the first plane back to Chicago in the morning!

Anonymous said...

Humpty Dumpty...

Anonymous said...

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/02/co-owner_of_former_agere_build.html

Haddad owned the former Lucent/ATT building on Union Blvd. He was having trouble filling it and got the Mayor to push through a zoning change for the building to allow a charter school to move in.

Anonymous said...

I don't get this. They are just repeating what Haddad TOLD them. How does that prove that there were bribes or "pay to play"? Ed could just deny that he demanded fundraising in exchange for preferential treatment. Then, it would just be a "his versus his" claim. Was there other evidence they found to corroborate Haddad's allegations? Why would Haddad admit guilt at this time? Seems like we don't have the whole story. Is this the first shoe to drop? Are the Fleck tapes behind this? Is that the other evidence that corroborate's Haddad's story? Are they getting some "small fish" to turn witness in exchange for lighter a lighter sentence and fines in order to land the "big fish"? Is the FBI ready to drop the hammer on King Edwin or just torture him awhile with witnesses giving themselves up in order to convince Pawlowski to a plea deal??

Anonymous said...

So who did the FBI classify as Public Official #1 and Public Official #2? No other elected officials were on the FBI's investigations list.

Anonymous said...

In the federal investigation of bribery in Lackawanna County, the people who paid the bribes got slaps on the wrist and are still in business. The public officials who sought the bribes were the targets, and they went to prison.

Anonymous said...

Guessing, but:

Public Official #1: McCord
Public Official #2: Reading Mayor

Anonymous said...

Now we need to go back to the kings seat on Allentowns Economic Development Corp., seperate but one in the same¿!($ There should be some counsil members resigning as well asthe kings minions in code enforcment losing pensions that are a familiy affair¿!($

Wannabe senetor of pa indicted as the Brown Hole Law moneypit continues opperations of this fine example of integrity at its best¿!($ This sagga will not be over that qwick¿!($

redd
patent pending

Anonymous said...

And Fleck the creep is hiding courtesy of our tax dollars. I hope the loser suffers the rest of his life.
Unofficial #6

Anonymous said...

3:58

Since the Reading and Allentown investigations are connected, Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer is Public Official #1 and the wife of that city's former president of council, Rebecca Acosta, was identified as Public Official #2.

Ed is #3.

Anonymous said...

Not obviously.

Anonymous said...

lol. No wonder he suspended his campaign.

Anonymous said...

Ed will always be #2 to me.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist)

Anonymous said...

So what's the over/under on how many weeks it will take Allentown City Council to act?

Or will they just wait to see how many of them get indicted?

Anonymous said...

City Council cannot act at this time since there has been no indictment or charges filed against the Mayor. Once some are filed, City Council will act accordingly if the Mayor does not on his own.

Anonymous said...

5:02 -

I'm not talking about an official action to remove Ed, I'm talking about speaking up about what's been going on.

Unless you just awoke from a decade-long coma, you know this has been going on for some time now. City residents know it, and members of City Council certainly knew it.

But except for one notable exception, nobody on City Council has said anything or acted like there's any type of problem - even after the early July FBI raid. That tells me something. They're either involved themselves or are ok with what's been going on.

A sane Council would be calling a press conference to denounce what is now obvious, and put the pressure on Ed to resign. I'm guessing we won't be hearing very much from City Council.

Anonymous said...

what's new development about burner cell phones and bug sweeps of city hall???? if that's true, lol!

Anonymous said...

Pawlowski is not a crook and the All-Star Rubber Stamp Council of Democrat Apparatchiks knows this.

Anonymous said...

Haddad is also vice president of Whitehall Manor and President of Allen Street Development. Both with address of 1177 Sixth Street Whitehall.

On another subject, the Morning Call reported of a meeting between Pawlowski and then candidate Wolf at an office location in Whitehall. Also, present at that meeting was Abe Atiyeh. The Morning Call reported a cabinet position was suggested and Wolf told the group he would not be promising anything as he made his way to the exit, sources recalled.

Others have suggested that Wolf told aides he never wanted meet with the group again.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has supported and believed Ed throughout, at this point I hope he does the right thing now; come clean and resign from public office. Each subsequent guilty plea will make it harder and harder for him to dig in and try to keep his job while fending off resignation demands from City Council and citizens. Ed got Downtown moving in the right direction, maybe his replacement can keep it going in a way that inspires trust.

Anonymous said...

.....and so it begins.

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine how much free drinks, meals and lodging etc..this guy has finagled for himself over the years? His comp meals at Johnny Mananas were probably slumming it compared to the fancy meals he must have gotten for free. His mancave, windows, babysitting, and legal fees etc...are nicely paid for by campaign donors and donations. What does he do with his over-inflated salary?

Anonymous said...

According to campaign finance reports FedEd was taking an awful lot of taxi rides in NYC on Dec 15, 2014, the same say he received the $2,500 contribution from Haddad.

Also, paid for parking at East 54th Operating Company in NYC on May 19.

Must be working on "inter state" business for the NIZ.

Anonymous said...

Public official #1...Tom Brady
Public official #2...Robert Kraft

Anonymous said...

We all know it was Tony Montana and Manolo Ribera who were "Pushing it to the Limit" as part of Montana Realty Company.

Anonymous said...

Every Allentown resident lives on Shaketown Street.

Anonymous said...

The video for tonight's Budget and Finance meeting is at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/lehigh-valley-caffeinated

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks very much.

Anonymous said...

City Council is a bunch of useless pathetic punks.
Look for ZERO leadership out of these slugs.

Anonymous said...

So there are at least THREE public officials? Enough that they have to number them? And the allegation, in a nutshell, is that to get what you want in Allentown, particularly in one area of the city, you have to pay up? Gosh, you mean all this downtown revival wasn't altruistic? If a rising tide lifts all boats, what happens when the big boat sinks? How many "on board" will go down? Maybe they should change the name of the arena to Tammany Hall.

Anonymous said...

The city's managing director is going down.
One of the two boy representatives is going down as well.

Anonymous said...

It's going to be like the Bermuda triangle soon.

Anonymous said...

I kind of think someone was running for different offices for the campaign contributions.

Elijah LoPinto said...

So it looks like there is plenty of proof of pay to play. This is just the first person to turn in a guilty plea. More will follow. Who was the last name on the subpoena again? Oh that's right J.B. Reilly.

Lets say that this continues to go smoothly and it is proven that Pawlowski took political bribes to give out favors. City Center (Reilly) was given $20 million from the NIZ before there was a way to apply for NIZ funds. He and his partner, the as yet un subpoenaed Joe Topper, Maxed out donations to Pawlowski in multiple years. Sounds quite a bit like the biggest fish in the pay to play scandal.

Now the real question is if Reilly and Topper are shown to have bribed Pawlowski to get their NIZ funding (and the NIZ map made just to fit their properties no less) what is to become of their developments?

Certainly they should not be aloud to keep them. Will they go under public ownership? Will the FBI seize then and auction them off?

I've been waiting over four years for this. I continue to wait and watch only because I'm no longer close enough to hold a sign at 7th and Hamilton.

~Elijah LoPinto

Anonymous said...

Let's hope Brown and Mann go down hard.

Anonymous said...

This is total CRAP. Fleck will be the one who asked and said all this crap, not Powlowski.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Try to spin that somewhere else. The feds caught on to that "blame it all on Fleck" argument and dealt with it rather nicely.

Who's next?

Anonymous said...

This is total CRAP. Fleck will be the one who asked and said all this crap, not Powlowski.
You can't even spell his name correctly, and based on the Information that was filed, they have substantial evidence Ed was involved.

Anonymous said...

Listening to Pawlowski's lawyer makes me want to laugh. Obviously, the defensive play will be deny, deny, deny and then hope, hope, hope.

I will wait to see how this evolves, but the picture is clearer, and a deeply moral person would step aside, at least until final determinations are made.

To stand and deny in the face of mounting evidence that something came down on his watch, is perhaps worse than the crime itself.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps someone should be investigating Mark Jaindl for his extortion like tactics. Forcing people to donate to Browne, but that's okay because he's Republican. Check the finance records.
Wild Bill

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bernie for being the one who has pushed this issue time and time again. No newspaper, no other media outlet, no other politician pushed this issue. Only Bernie O'hare. you brought this to the forefront before anyone else ever picked up on it. You don't get enough credit for what you do. those awards you received in the past will be nothing to the accolades that will be bestowed upon you now. thank you for being there for us.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bernie for being the one who has pushed this issue time and time again. No newspaper, no other media outlet, no other politician pushed this issue. Only Bernie O'hare. you brought this to the forefront before anyone else ever picked up on it. You don't get enough credit for what you do. those awards you received in the past will be nothing to the accolades that will be bestowed upon you now. thank you for being there for us.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I appreciate the kind words, but I am only a second fiddle in this serenade. Others like Michael Molovinsky (he was called "dour and misguided" by the mainstream), Rich Fegley (his family lost a business for their views), Kim Velez (who bravely got her name back on the ballot last year), deserve more credit. Lou Hershman, who is a gentleman, has been pointing out these problems for ten years. Dennis Pearson, Tommy Hahn, Glenn Hunsicker and others deserve the credit. I am simply a writer.

Anonymous said...

Public Official #1 was Vaughn Spencer
Public Official #2 was Acosta's wife

Anonymous said...

Fleck is not a "public official".
Po Po is going to the can can.

Will Jennings write?

Anonymous said...

This has been going on since Ed was community development director. He used public funds for private developments, giving money to people who were delinquent in tax filings, payments and other things, to promote himself as the next mayor. Of you got in his way, he sought to take your property with strong arm code enforcement. Look at the history of all the properties on Hamilton St. that have been demolished since 2000.

Anonymous said...

ABC was dirty too!

Anonymous said...

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