ALLENTOWN, Pa. - In the elevator ride after meeting with a wealthy potential donor in New York City, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski tells a campaign staffer that he gets nervous talking about city business and donations in the same conversation.
“We gotta be careful. I get uncomfortable when we start talking … we’re just gonna give you this,” Pawlowski is heard on a secret recording. “I’m so scared nowadays, like who the hell knows who wearing a wire? Who’s tapped. Who’s not. You know what I mean?”
Prosecutors on Monday continued questioning a member of the the mayor’s inner circle, who had been making secret recordings as part of the FBI’s investigation into alleged pay-to-play politics in Allentown City Hall. Investigators allege Pawlowski traded city contracts and favors in exchange for campaign contributions.
Much of Monday morning’s testimony centered on wealthy New York City-based developer Jack Rosen. The mayor is accused of concocting a cybersecurity contract for Rosen’s firm, Ciber, in hopes Rosen and his family would help the mayor raise money and make contacts in New York for his U.S. Senate run.
The city’s former managing director testified that he found the work at the mayor’s behest and came up with a contract that would skirt the bidding process.
During a 2015 meeting at Rosen’s New York City offices, Rosen, the mayor and Fleck are heard discussing the $35,000 contract for Ciber before discussing campaign fundraising. Sam Ruchlewicz, who worked for Fleck, made the secret recording after agreeing in 2014 to work with the FBI.
The group is heard discussing finalizing the particulars of the contract, and the mayor indicates that he’s made it clear to his departments that they need to meet with Ciber representatives.
“It’s going good,” the mayor said. “Are we done talking other business?”
“Yeah, put up a Chinese wall,” Rosen replies.
That’s when the conversation shifts to the mayor’s fundraising goals for his U.S. Senate race. Fleck announces that the campaign had raised about $400,000 over a roughly two week period and hired a pollster.
“And how much do you gotta raise?” Rosen asked.
“A million by June 30,” Fleck said.
“I want to raise a million by June 30, but I got $400,000 already,” Pawlowski said. “I think I can do it. Um, my hope was you could help raise $100,000 in NY.”
“By June 30?” Rosen asks.
“By June 30. Is that possible?” Pawlowski said.
They are heard discussing donation limits for single donors and couples, and Rosen talks about getting New York donors interested in a Pennsylvania Congressional race.
“I think we can raise you some money,” Rosen said.
The prosecution played for the jury other recordings in which Fleck and Pawlowski discuss approaching Rosen for a donation and the city contract allegedly meant to land him as a donor and fundraiser.
At one point, Fleck is heard telling Pawlowski that he shouldn’t have anymore contact with donors like Rosen and Allentown real estate developer, Ramzi Haddad “because it will get you into conversations you don’t want to be in.”
“From a governmental standpoint, we want to make sure that you help with whatever he needs,” Fleck said of Rosen. “But you don’t want him to own you.”
Earlier prosecution testimony alleged that the city planned on giving Ciber the no-bid $35,000 contract to assess Allentown’s cybersecurity with plans for future – and more expensive – contracts to design and implement a security plan.
Pawlowski, Rosen and Rosen’s son, Jordan Rosen, are heard discussing that the initial Ciber contract was not a big-dollar deal, but rather a way for the company to get its foot in the door. The city in 2015 also hosted the Pennsylvania Municipal League Conference, and Pawlowski recommended Rosen help sponsor the event. Sponsors were able to attend the conference and meet with municipal officials from across the state.
“If you have one job in Pennsylvania …” Rosen said.
“You can get more…” Pawlowski said.
The city never executed the contract after the FBI searched city hall in July 2015. Previous testimony indicated there were insurance issues.
Prosecutors are scheduled to continue questioning Ruchlewicz Monday afternoon.
- FBI Probe 69 News
Mayor Pawlowski is set to return to the witness stand Monday as the prosecution continues its cross-examination.Read More »
The mayor will return to the stand Monday. The jury could begin deliberations early next week.Read More »
For two days on the stand Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski repeatedly denied he was ever involved in a pay-to-play scheme.Read More »
Federal prosecutors told a jury at the outset of the Allentown pay-to-play trial that the mayor had his office twice swept for bugs and asked about having his vehicle checked for listening devices.Read More »
- Lehigh Valley 69 News
- Man arrested for robbing Allentown Dominoes at gunpoint
- Former Reading mayor Spencer's trial delayed
- Rainy weather continues this weekend
- Updated Some Poconos students to relocate Wednesday due to blessing ceremony featuring AR-15s
- Updated Murphy promises gun control, but for now reviews policies
- Millions of BB&T customers affected by outage
- Updated Joe Paterno movie coming to HBO
- Degas painting missing for 9 years found outside Paris
- Florida governor speaks out on Parkland shooting
- Sarah McNary talks personal color analysis