Lehigh Valley

Local leaders react to Mike Fleck's guilty plea

Local leaders react to Mike Fleck's guilty plea

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - "Energetic guy, smart, I mean really, I don't know what happened to him, somehow he became overly involved," is how Easton Mayor Sal Panto described Mike Fleck.

Panto, who worked with Mike Fleck, during Fleck's time on city council and beat him in the 2007 mayoral primary said he isn't overly surprised by Thursday's events.

Fleck, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski's political consultant and one time close friend, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion and bribery in connection to the Reading and Allentown FBI probe.

Fleck is the fifth person who pleaded guilty to implicate Pawlowski in the pay to play scheme. Panto says it puts all politicians under an unfair public microscope.

"When I ran in November I had a hard time raising campaign money. People didn't know to give me money or not give me money," Panto said.

In January, Allentown City Council passed a resolution of no-confidence in Pawlowski, demanding he resign, calling him a "detriment to the well-being of the city, its residents and city employees." Councilman Daryl Hendricks says Fleck's guilty plea and the implications made in court documents only reaffirm that action.

Council President Ray O'Connell said the documents prove to him that Pawlowksi was just as manipulative and controlling as Fleck and stressed again the mayor needs to step down.

However nonprofit head Alan Jennings who's worked with both Fleck and Pawlowski calls the whole thing sad for the city but says he will continue to support the mayor.

"If he is deemed to have done something wrong and is guilty I will be mad as hell because I have stood by him. But I will continue to stand behind Ed Pawlowski until there's proof beyond a reasonable doubt," he said.

In a statement Ed Pawlowski's attorney Mark Schamel said.

It is disappointing to learn about Mike Fleck's illegal conduct. It is unfortunate that Mike was involved in so many different crimes, all of which we have learned of since last July. The charges released today against Mike are apparently just a fraction of the illegal conduct he was involved in with Treasurer McCord, undercover federal agents and others.

We trust that his desire for self-preservation and to avoid prison for his crimes will not outweigh his moral obligation to the truth. If Mike will tell the truth, it will become clear that the Mayor was not a participant in any wrongdoing. While we feel very badly for Mike and his family and the terrible situation he is in, we remain hopeful that he will not continue to misrepresent the truth and hurt other innocent people simply to save himself.

Pawlowski has maintained his innocence.


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