Many readers may be familiar with the federal criminal case against the city council president in Reading, Pennsylvania. The 39-year-old public servant was accused of multiple white collar crimes as part of an ongoing FBI investigation into alleged wrongdoings at the level of city governance. A guilty plea was recently entered in the case, which is the first of multiple cases expected to result from the investigation.
The Reading City Council President was accused of conspiracy to commit bribery, among other charges. Specifically, he was alleged to have conspired with another public official to repeal an anti-corruption statute. That law served to limit the ability of individuals to influence political candidates by means of financial contributions. Sources assert that the public official in question is the city's mayor.
Within the plea, it is asserted that the unnamed public official offered the City Council President a loan of $1,800. That loan would be forgiven if legislation was introduced to remove the financial contribution restrictions from the city's ethics policy. When the city council president was interviewed by FBI agents, he withdrew from the conspiracy, and eventually entered the guilty plea.
There is no word on the details of the plea agreement in this Pennsylvania case, but it can be assumed that the Reading City Council President received some benefit in accepting responsibility for the white collar crimes charges. Often, the appeal of a plea agreement is the wish to avoid trial, in which a great deal of personal information is made part of the public record. For some, the costs of moving through a trial are a motivating factor in accepting a plea deal, as is the uncertainties concerning the outcome of such a case.
Source: mcall.com, "Reading City Council president pleads guilty to bribery in connection with FBI investigation", Emily Opilo, Aug. 5, 2015