Lehigh Valley

Former Allentown managing director pleads guilty in FBI probe

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Former high-ranking city official, Francis X. Dougherty has entered a guilty plea agreement in the FBI investigation of Allentown City Hall.

Dougherty was Allentown’s managing director from June 2006 to September 2008 and from January 2012 until May 2016. 

According to court paperwork, Dougherty pleaded guilty to one count  to commit mail/wire fraud. The indictment came down on March 13 and was unsealed Wednesday. As part of his plea deal, Dougherty agreed to testify as a witness before any grand jury, hearing or trial when the government asks him to.

He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release , a $250,000 fine and $100 special assessment. Full restitution may also be ordered, according to the paperwork. 

Dougherty's paperwork tells a similar story we've heard every since the FBI raided Allentown city hall in July 2015. It alleges city officials rigged the contracting process at the direction of Public Official #3, who only fits the mayor's description.

Wednesday's unsealed documents say Dougherty and Public Official #3 worked together to manipulate the city's contract process so city work would go to a company that supported Public Official #3's campaign for state and federal office.

Pawlowski ran for governor and U.S. Senate, but ultimately pulled out of those races.

Prosecutors alleged the un-named company was given a heads up on who else was submitting proposals for the job for a city light's project. The feds say Dougherty even threatened to fire someone in attempt to help make sure the preferred company got the gig. Eventually that company did get the job.

Dougherty's attorney, Lisa Mathewson said, "At today's hearing the judge alluded to what he had learned about Fran's character during the District of Philadelphia trial and invited us to tell the complete story at sentencing. We look forward to doing so." She also said they are prepared to testify against Pawlowski if need be. 

Dougherty stepped down from his position in April of 2016. He did not give a reason for his resignation back then.

He first joined the city as director of the Department of Community and Economic Development in April 2006.

As managing director, he represented the Pawlowski administration at City Council meetings.

The FBI first started their corruption probe with a search of Allentown City Hall in July 2015.

Ramzi Haddad, Dale Wiles, Garrett Strathearn, Mary Ellen Koval, Michael Fleck and Matthew McTish are scheduled to be sentenced in May and June have also pleaded guilty to corruption charges.

Pawlowski has not been charged.

Meanwhile, State Representative Mike Schlossberg issued on a statement regarding Pawloski. It read in part, "Over a year ago, I called on Mayor Pawlowski to put the interests of the people of Allentown ahead of his own, and resign. Today, I am reiterating that call: For the good of the people of Allentown, Ed Pawlowski should resign as mayor,” Schlossberg said.

Pawlowski attended a Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Democratic mayoral candidates forum at Allentown Symphony Hall shortly after Dougherty pleaded guilty.

The mayor said that he's maintained from the outset that he's done nothing wrong, a position he reiterated Wednesday.

"I still say I did nothing wrong," Pawlowski said. "And if I did anything or felt I wronged the city in any way, I wouldn't be running for office."

 

 


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