Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski, pictured in this Thursday, July 27, 2017 file photo, announced his resignation days after being found guilty of federal corruption charges. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)
A Pennsylvania mayor announced his resignation Thursday a week after jurors convicted him on charges that he traded city contracts for campaign cash.
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski said he will step down at 5 p.m. Friday from the job he’s held a dozen years.
The 52-year-old Democrat has been under intense pressure to resign since jurors convicted him last week of 47 counts. But he clung to office, showing up at City Hall, tweeting about snow preparations and economic development, and asking supporters to mount a letter-writing campaign to try to persuade the judge to impose a lenient sentence.
Pawlowski, who had served under a cloud since the FBI raided City Hall in 2015, did not apologize for the crimes for which he was convicted.
“To the residents of Allentown, I want to say I’m so very sorry that you and the city had to endure this long, drawn-out saga,” the mayor said at a news conference in front of his home.
Prosecutors say Pawlowski strong-armed city vendors to contribute to his failed campaigns for governor and U.S. Senate, orchestrating a scheme to rig city contracts for legal, engineering, technology and construction work. He took the witness stand and denied wrongdoing, but a jury convicted him of all but seven counts, including bribery, attempted extortion, and lying to the FBI.
Pawlowski, who remains free pending sentencing, faces years in prison. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.
Reading from prepared remarks, Pawlowski said he was disappointed and saddened by the jury’s verdict and planned to appeal. He insisted he’d left the city in better shape than when he started in 2006, touting improved city finances, a stabilized pension fund, reduced crime and economic development.
“We have worked really hard together, all of us, and taken this dying Rust Belt city and turned it into a great example of success,” he said. “Allentown has been my passion.”
He did not take questions.
The mayor had won election after election in the city of 120,000, the voters returning him to office even while he was under indictment. Pawlowski is resigning just over two months into his fourth term. The city council president will serve as acting mayor until council chooses an interim replacement.
Pawlowski’s lawyer, Jack McMahon, told reporters the mayor “needed some time to reflect” before making the decision to resign before sentencing.
Asked whether Pawlowski would have chosen to do anything differently, McMahon said: “Maybe not run for the United States Senate. That’s what created a lot of the situation.”