FBI Probe

Pay-to-play co-defendant argues no city work ever came his way

William Winning continued cross of Sam Ruchlewicz

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The attorney for Mayor Ed Pawlowski’s co-defendant in the Allentown pay-to-play trial tried to drive home that his client made few donations to the mayor and certainly didn’t receive the legal work he was allegedly promised.

Defense attorney William Winning continued his cross-examination Wednesday afternoon of prosecution witness Sam Ruchlewicz. Winning represents Scott Allinson, an attorney with the firm Norris McLaughlin who’s accused of trying to direct city legal work to his firm in exchange for the promise of campaign donations.

As he continued his cross, Winning noted on several occasions that his client was repeatedly pressured for donations from his firm, donations that Allinson failed to produce. Winning told the jury that his client made a single $250 donation to the mayor in 2015 and about $1,300 over an earlier four-year period.

The prosecution would later show that other attorneys in the firm had individually donated about $19,000.

Rucklewicz worked for Pawlowski’s former campaign manager, Mike Fleck, and has been heard on countless secret FBI recordings after agreeing to cooperate with the FBI.

Ruchlewicz has been heard talking with Allinson about the importance of making sure any legal work from Allentown is filtered through Allinson, so he received the appropriate credit with his firm. And Allinson is heard in other recordings talking about the difficulty of coming up with donations because of what he called a lack of work coming to Norris McLaughlin.

Testimony and FBI recordings reveal an alleged plan to make sure Allinson’s firm was appointed to represent the Allentown Parking Authority. But just as he repeatedly highlighted the number of donations sought by Ruchlewicz, Winning repeatedly asked the witness to acknowledge the firm was neither appointed to represent the authority, nor received an influx of city legal work.

Both defense attorneys seized on a small detail in some of the recordings in which Ruchlewicz is heard telling Allinson that he spoke with former city Managing Director Fran Dougherty regarding legal work. Ruchlewicz is heard saying that he instructed Dougherty to make sure former city Solicitor Susan Wild “saw the ways of the world” and referred work to Allinson specifically.

Ruchlewicz testified that he wasn’t entirely sure of what he told Dougherty. And as he has testified in other instances, he said he was likely passing along to Dougherty a directive from Fleck or the mayor.

“So, are you saying under oath today that that is not a truthful statement?” Winning asked.

“I had no authority to direct Mr. Dougherty,” Ruchlewicz said. “The mayor did.”

Ruchlewicz began cooperating with the FBI and recording conversations in June 2014. Under questioning from Winning, Ruchlewicz acknowledged that Allinson represented Fleck’s consulting firms, that Ruchlewicz invited Allinson to his wedding and that he was heard of tape saying things like, “I love you Scottie.”

“You were getting him to say things that could be used in this courtroom, weren’t you?” Winning asked.

“Sir I didn’t make Mr. Allinson say anything on those tapes,” Ruchlewicz said.

He said those things of his own free will and volition,” he said.

“After you made many, many, many requests for donations,” Winning said.

“And many, many requests for contracts on his for legal work from the city,” Ruchlewicz replied.

During a relatively short re-direct, Asst. U.S. Attorney Anthony Wzorek touched on a number of defense arguments, including whether the mayor knew about the plan to appoint Norris McLauglin attorney Rich Somach to represent the parking authority.

He replayed a recording of the mayor allegedly saying “screw it all” after learning from Ruchlewicz about the difficulty in getting donations from Norris McLaughlin.

“Nothing,” the mayor said. “Allinson will get nothing at all.”

You know (expletive) them,” Pawlowski said. “And I’m not gonna put, I’m not gonna make Somach solicitor or anything. Screw it all.”

In response to a question from Wzorek, Ruchlewicz said the relationship with Allinson, whether it was asking for donations or talk of the parking authority, changed drastically after the July 2015 FBI raid of city hall.

On Tuesday, Pawlowksi defense attorney, Jack McMahon, tried to counter allegations that the mayor used lists of city vendor as potential donor lists based on the amount of work a firm had been receiving from the city. He argued the lists represented successful business owners potentially friendly to the mayor.

Ruchlewicz, meanwhile, testified Wednesday that the lists were seen as contractors who could be leveraged for donations. The prosecution played a recording regarding Mark Neisser, a former executive with T&M Associates, who had been contacted regarding a possible donation.

“Will they call me back already,” Pawlowski said of T&M. “I called them like 20,000 times.”

“You’ll enjoy what they called me about,” Ruchlewicz said.

“What?” the mayor replied.

“We don’t feel like we going to get any work out of the city of Allentown,” Ruchlewicz said of Neisser.

“Really, they got like $900,000 worth of work,” Pawlowski said.

How about helping out first maybe,” the mayor said. “Why don’t you tell them that?”

The prosecution ended the day by referencing a recording introduced by the defense on Tuesday. The mayor is heard talking to Fleck about a potentially damaging text sent by Ruchlewicz. Pawlowski is heard telling Fleck that he “purged everything in his system.”

“I would go back and make sure you purge everything that has to do with me, the city, anything in your system, going back as far as you can go,” Wzorek read from a transcript.

“Do you remember that from yesterday?” he asked Ruchlewicz.

“Yes,” he answered.

“No further questions your honor,” Wzorek said.

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