Lehigh Valley

Former Allentown city controller gets probation in pay-to-play scheme

PHILADELPHIA - Another former Allentown official has been sentenced for her role in the city's corruption scandal.

Mary Ellen Koval, former Allentown city controller, was sentenced Tuesday to two years probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

Koval admitted to participating in an alleged pay-to-play scheme in which campaign contributions were traded for city contracts.

She pleaded guilty in January 2016 to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.

She resigned just two months into her second term.

Koval was the fourth to plead guilty in connection with the FBI's investigation. Federal agents in July 2015 raided Allentown City Hall, the mayor's office, searching the controller's office, the mayor's office, the information technology department and other city offices.

Koval was the only other Allentown elected official to get caught up in the matter.

Former Mayor Ed Pawlowski took his case to trial and was convicted of more than 40 charges. He's serving a 15-year sentence.

"Mary Ellen stands in sharp contrast to the hubris, narcissim, or arrogance that we see in many other public case in this and other cases, where there's this absolute denial of responsibility," Defense Attorney Eric Dowdle said in a phone interview.

Koval also agreed to cooperate with the government, but the feds ended up not calling her to testify at trial. 

Prosecutors gave her credit for owning up and coming clean Tuesday.

"She apologize to the courts, she apologized most profusely to the city of Allentown, the people, vendors, and employees of the city of Allentown," Dowdle said.

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