Today is St. Cucuphas Day. He's like the Roadrunner of Catholicism. His persecutors first tried to slow roast him alive, but failed. Then they tried throwing him into a raging bonfire, but only managed to start themselves on fire. Then they decided to use iron whips from Acme to kill him, but started on fire again.
Don't worry. St. Cucuphas finally achieved martyrdom when they ran him through with a sword, and today, he is the patron saint of petty thieves.
It seems that federal investigators have tried in numerous ways to convince both Allentown Attorney Scott Allinson and Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski that they should acknowledge their guilt to political corruption. Hopefully, they've learned they need no raging bonfire. Their simple sword is a grand jury indictment.
I've published Allentown Attorney Scott Allinson's email to three "old friends," telling them that he finally expects to face charges in a federal investigation of political corruption. He said it could be as soon as this week. I've since learned that charges will be filed today. That's what Allinson's law firm told clients and colleagues in multiple calls today. They added that, aside from Allinson, there will be at least one other Defendant. It's no secret that both Allinson and Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski have been under scrutiny for some time. Neither has been willing to plead, as nine others have done. There are no more rocks to turn over. Though I could be wrong, I expect to see Fed Ed charged today. As of midnight, I saw no records on Pacer (the federal electronic docket) to indicate that any charging documents have been unsealed. But I expect it to happen today.
Based on charging documents already filed against nine individuals, we know what's going on.
In Allinson's case, it's quite simple. Upon hearing that Allinson had expressed doubt that he or his law firm could raise money for Fed Ed's Senate race, the Mayor exploded.
"Really! I've given him millions of dollars.. .. Relatively, compared to other law firms, they've given nothing. [Allinson] for sure will get nothing now. ... You know, f--k them! And I'm not gonna [award work to Allinson's law partner] or anything. Screw it all!"
A few days later, Allinson promised that in exchange for Fed Ed's agreement to steer legal contracts to his law firm, Allinson would solicit attorneys at his firm for campaign contributions.
The evidence in this case will also show that Allinson, who represented Pawlowski campaign manager Michael Fleck, accompanied him on a number of these fundraising expeditions.
Allinson's defense will be that he was extorted.
Evidence will show that Allinson was very much one of the King's men. He's attracted to money and power. Fed Ed, as Allentown's Mayor, has actual and perceived authority and influence over, among other things, the awarding of certain municipal contracts, the negotiation of leases for municipal offices, and zoning and licensing issues relating to certain buildings and properties located in Allentown. He has direct authority over city workers, and also had a lot of influence over Controller Mary Ellen Koval because she relied on him and his contributors for her own campaign money.
Though Fed Ed now claims he has a "passion for Allentown," the truth is that he was trying to get out of there before an inevitable tax increase. He sold everything that wasn't nailed down, and then used that money to buy property the City never needed for almost three times what it was worth from campaign contributor Abe Atiyeh.
Abe was unable to get anywhere in Allentown until he hired Mike Fleck as a "consultant."
That business consultant, who was also Fed Ed's campaign manager, told Abe to start contributing, and he did. Fed Ed used his Mayoral seat has been a springboard for both a gubernatorial run as well as a stab at the US Senate. He is ambitious.
To run statewide, he needed to raise a lot of money. So he and campaign manager Mike Fleck, a business consultant on the side with companies who wanted to do business in Allentown, came up with a scheme to defraud the citizens of their right to honest services.
It was a bribery, bid-rigging and kickback scheme. In exchange for campaign contributions, Fed Ed would steer City business to his donors.
One of these was entrepreneur Ramzi Haddad, the first person to plead guilty. Fed Ed made clear to him, both directly and through Fleck, that he needed to contribute to Fed Ed's campaigns if he expected to do business in Allentown. Haddad contributed $11,500 of his own money, and bundled another $15,000 from contributors in New York. Fed Ed was directly involved, even traveling to New York himself to discuss the money Haddad would raise in exchange for Fed Ed's "help."
During this time, Fed Ed Ed used burner phones, directed Haddad to delete text messages and even conducted sweeps of his office for electronic surveillance.
The remaining defendant contributors are all variations of Ramzi Haddad.
Fed Ed also used three of his subordinates, Managing Director Francis Dougherty, Ass't City Solicitor Dale Wiles and Finance Director Garret Strathearn, to rig the bids for contracts that Fed Ed wanted to steer to campaign contributors.
The City was for sale.
When questioned by federal authorities, Fed Ed himself lied to them.
Feds used several people to record conversations. Fleck himself was flipped. So were Sam Ruchlewicz and Francis Dougherty.
What I have posted here is the tip of the iceberg.
As his world crashes down around him, Pawlowski has remained defiant. The failure to charge him, despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt, has made it impossible for the City to return to normal.
So I am hopeful that federal authorities finally play their hand. They had enough Aces at least a year ago.
While I doubt a federal judge would insist that Fed Ed resign his office as a condition of bail. it is my hope that, if he is charged, a trial is scheduled within the next 30-60 days. That was the approach taken with DA Seth Williams. A federal judgein that matter reasoned that the people of Philadelphia were entitled to a prompt resolution.
So are the people of Allentown.