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Press Release

Allentown Man who Bribed Allentown Mayor and Reading School Board President Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

James Hickey, 54, of Allentown, was sentenced today to 18 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Juan Sanchez, announced U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain.  

Today’s sentencing stemmed from Hickey’s guilty plea in December 2017 to two sets of criminal charges.  First, Hickey pled guilty to bribing the Reading school board president in exchange for confidential information about a company’s bid on an energy contract with the school district; Hickey admitted that he wanted this confidential information so that his client could submit a lower bid.  Second, Hickey pled guilty to giving campaign contributions to Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski so the mayor would steer the city’s street lights contract (worth about $3 million) to a company called The Efficiency Network, for which Hickey worked as a consultant.  As stated in the government’s sentencing memo, Hickey said he would provide a steady stream of contributions to Pawlowski but that Pawlowski “has got to perform.”  Following a six-week trial that ended in February, a jury found Pawlowski guilty for his part in the pay-to-play scheme.

“This was textbook pay-to-play, and this defendant played it brazenly,” U.S. Attorney McSwain said. “He corrupted the contracting process of each city and left no room for an honest evaluation of contracts for the benefit of the citizens.  Under these circumstances, we believe the prison sentence was absolutely justified.”

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michelle Morgan and Anthony Wzorek of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and Pennsylvania State Police.

Updated December 20, 2018

Public Corruption