PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A former Pennsylvania mayor apologized in federal court Wednesday to the citizens of his city as he awaited sentencing for his conviction on charges he exchanged contracts for campaign contributions.
“I let them down and I apologize to them,” said Vaughn Spencer, who was the Democratic mayor of Reading from 2012 until his failed reelection bid in 2015. “I’d like to acknowledge my sincere regret for the damage my conviction has caused.”
Spencer, 71, was convicted on bribery and conspiracy charges as part of a federal pay-to-play investigation that led to raids of two city halls a week apart.
Federal prosecutors were seeking a sentence of 10 to 12 years in prison. His attorney asked for leniency Wednesday, saying it was Spencer’s campaign advisers who led the scheme.
Prosecutors accused Spencer of promising engineering contracts to companies that agreed to provide campaign contributions and directing contracts to past donors to ensure they kept supporting his reelection efforts.
Spencer “repeatedly engineered quid pro quos meant to pad his campaign coffers,” U.S. Attorney William McSwain said previously.
Spencer was also convicted of attempting to bribe former City Council President Francisco Acosta in order to try to get an anti-pay-to-play ordinance repealed in Reading, the fifth largest city in Pennsylvania. He agreed to give Acosta’s wife a contribution for her campaign in a judge’s race if the ordinance were abolished. The ex-council president was previously sentenced to two years in prison for taking the bribe.
Federal investigators raided city halls in Reading and Allentown in 2015 in an investigation of pay-to-play schemes that also ensnared then-Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. Pawlowski was sentenced in October to 15 years in prison for rigging municipal contracts in order to raise money for his political campaigns for higher office.
More than a dozen officials have been convicted so far in the plot.
By CHRISTINA PACIOLLA
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