Berks

FBI agents return to Reading City Hall

'It's like every day we uncover something new,' Mayor Wally Scott says

FBI returns to Reading; 'We need help,' mayor says; WFMZ's Alexandra Hogan reports

READING, Pa. - FBI agents made the rounds in Reading City Hall again on Tuesday, continuing their investigation of what has been described as pay-to-play politics.

Agents arrived at the building around 10:30 a.m. Among the offices they visited were those of the law department and city solicitor.

The FBI agents declined to say what they were searching for, but Mayor Wally Scott addressed the reason for their return during a news conference in city council chambers Tuesday afternoon.

Scott said he contacted the FBI about contracts that were awarded by former Mayor Vaughn Spencer's administration, specifically one involving a Chester County-based towing company that, Scott said, claims to be owed $1.8 million by the Reading Parking Authority for work it was hired to do in the city.

"There's something wrong here and why they're towing cars completely out of the county," Scott said. "We've looked at the so-called contract that they have that isn't signed."

The owner of the towing company told 69 News he had no comment on the FBI search or the mayor's comments.

Scott said he has also asked the feds to look at other dealings done by his predecessor's administration.

"It's like every day we uncover something new," Scott said. "We need help, but we need help from an outside agency coming in, taking a look at where we are, and that's why we're doing forensic audits."

Those audits, Scott said, are being done by the water and parking authorities. One will also be done on the city sewer system.

"I'm looking does somebody know somebody," Scott said. "There was a saying years ago that went like this: 'If you see smoke, there's got to be fire.' Is there any familiarity? Is there any friendships that have caused this? And does it go beyond friendship? And that's what we're looking for and we're asking for."

Agents last visited city hall in February, as investigators widened their corruption probe of pay-to-play politics the city.

40316994

The latest search Tuesday came almost exactly 13 months to the day after the initial search by FBI agents of both Reading City Hall and the home of then-Mayor Vaughn Spencer.

In the time since July 10, 2015, Francis Acosta, the former president of city council, admitted to accepting an $1,800 bribe in exchange for trying to overturn the city's ethics law. Acosta's attorney has said that bribe came from Spencer.

Acosta has served nearly a quarter of his 24-month federal prison sentence.

Spencer has been implicated by the feds in numerous court documents, but he has not been charged. His attorney told 69 News on Tuesday that he had no knowledge of the FBI's latest search.

Also pleading guilty in connection with the ongoing investigation were Eron Lloyd, a special assistant to Spencer, and Michael Fleck, Spencer's former campaign manager.

Matthew McTish, the president of a Lehigh County-based engineering firm, has also pleaded guilty, admitting to contributing thousands of dollars to Spencer's re-election campaign in an effort to be rewarded with city contracts, according to federal prosecutors.

Spencer lost his bid for a second term as Reading's mayor in the 2015 primary election.


This Week's Circulars

Berks Area News

Latest From The Newsroom