- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A business consultant indicted on corruption charges alongside the mayor of Allentown and the former mayor of Reading has pleaded guilty to fraud in each city.

James Hickey entered the plea Tuesday in federal court in Philadelphia as part of a deal with prosecutors. They will drop other charges and recommend that he be sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Hickey was named in indictments against Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and former Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer, who were accused of shaking down businesses and individuals for campaign contributions in alleged pay-to-play schemes.

Pawlowski and Spencer, both Democrats, have denied the accusations. Pawlowski, who won re-election last month, is scheduled for trial in January.

Hickey’s attorneys declined to comment on the plea, citing a gag order.

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