A developer pleaded guilty Thursday to a bribery conspiracy charge after federal prosecutors say he gave campaign contributions to an elected official in Allentown in return for favorable treatment from the city — a plot that apparently involved the mayor.
Ramzi Haddad, 45, of Bethlehem, raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Allentown official's U.S. Senate campaign after the candidate "made clear" to city vendors, including Haddad, that giving campaign cash "was a necessary condition for receiving certain favorable treatment from the city of Allentown," according to court documents released Thursday.
The documents did not identify the elected official by name but say he announced his candidacy for federal office on April 17. That's when Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced he was running for U.S. Senate.
Pawlowski suspended his candidacy in July, days after the FBI raided Allentown City Hall. He hasn't been charged with a crime. His attorney didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Haddad agreed to raise $25,000 in campaign contributions for the Allentown official, according to court documents, but said he needed that official to intervene in the municipal inspection of one of his buildings. The official agreed to "get on" a particular inspector, and urged Haddad to "let me know" of any problems, court documents said.
Haddad faces a maximum of five years in prison when he is sentenced on Dec. 18.
The quid pro quo wasn't limited to Haddad, according to prosecutors. The official allegedly ordered city staff to do favors for other donors to his Senate campaign.
The official tried concealing the plot by limiting his interactions with Haddad and other city vendors, destroying records, ordering government offices to be searched for electronic surveillance devices and using prepaid cellphones "that he believed would be difficult for law enforcement to monitor," court documents said.
Allentown is the state's third-largest city, with a population of about 120,000.