2 more plead guilty in pay-to-play probe in Allentown, Reading | Reading Eagle

Two more defendants have entered guilty pleas in the ongoing FBI probe into pay-to-play allegations centering on Reading and Allentown city governments.

Patrick Regan has agreed to plead guilty in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia to a single count of mail and wire fraud. Mark Neeser admitted to conspiring to commit bribery offenses.The two, who entered their pleas June 6, bring to nine the number of alleged co-conspirators who have pleaded guilty in an ongoing probe of Reading and Allentown’s city halls.The case against Neisser was filed March 13 but was sealed by U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sanchez. The case against Regan was filed May 11 under seal. Prosecutors asked the judge to lift the seal after the two defendants entered guilty pleas.According to court papers, Neeser is charged with working with an individual prosecutors have identified only as Public Official No. 1. By the description in court papers, Public Official No. 1 could only be former Reading Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer.Neisser also admitted to conspiring with a person identified by prosecutors as Public Official No. 3 – a person that could only be Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. Neisser admitted making thousands in contributions to Public Officials No. 1 and No. 3. Regan told prosecutors he made contributions to Public Official No. 3’s mayoral, gubernatorial and U.S. Senate campaigns. Neither Spencer nor Pawlowski has been charged in the ongoing probe.Spencer was unavailable Wednesday. Contacted on Tuesday, Spencer’s defense attorney, Geoffrey R. Johnson, Jenkintown, Montgomery County, said he knew of no new developments in the federal probe.Prosecutors allege the following: Public Official No. 1 was running for mayor of Reading in the May 19, 2015, primary and was facing limits imposed by the city of $2,600 per individual or couple.

PAC part of conspiracy

“To minimize the impact of the campaign finance restrictions in the Reading Code of Ethics, Public Official No. 1 made use of a political action committee controlled by his campaign operatives (the Reading PAC),” prosecutors allege.

Neisser was an employee of an unnamed engineering firm that relied heavily on government contracts and Public Official No. 1, through Eron Lloyd, then special assistant to Reading Mayor Spencer, let it be known that firms that contributed to his PAC would be viewed favorably for contracts. Neisser, who was in charge of business development, created a PAC to donate to Public Official No. 1’s campaign instead of past practice of individual members of the firm making political contributions, prosecutors allege.Neisser, together with Public Official No. 1, Lloyd, Public Official No. 3, and Michael Fleck conspired to commit extortion and bribery offenses, prosecutors allege. Fleck, who had served as campaign manager for Spencer and Pawlowski, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion and bribery.In Regan’s case, prosecutors allege the following: He was working for an unnamed company that was interested in getting a street-lighting contract with the city of Allentown.Public Official No. 3 and his confederates pressured Regan and others to make contributions to his campaign for the U.S. Senate in exchange for favorable consideration for Allentown’s street-lighting contract, which had an estimated value of $3 million.Public Official No. 3 and other city officials who have since entered guilty pleas in the case, worded the bids so that they would favor Regan’s company. After the requests for bids were released, four of six companies were immediately eliminated and the bid was awarded to Regan’s company.Neisser was ordered to surrender his passport and was released on $100,000 bail. His sentencing has been set for July 10.Regan’s bail was set at $50,000 and his sentencing is set for Sept. 13. Both proceedings are scheduled for the federal courthouse in Philadelphia before U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sanchez.Contact Dan Kelly: 610-371-5040 or [email protected]