This article was originally published on The Legal Intelligencer by P.J. D’Annunzio on April 21, 2016
A political consultant from Allentown pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to charges stemming from an FBI investigation into the Allentown and Reading city governments. Michael Fleck, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion and bribery offenses and one count of tax evasion.
Additionally, Fleck admitted to filing false tax returns for his consulting business from 2011 to 2013, which, according to the prosecution, caused a loss of $77,000 to the government.
Fleck faces up to 10 years in prison, which U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sanchez of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania repeatedly reminded Fleck of when asking whether he was certain he wanted to plead guilty during his court appearance Thursday morning.
“You know you’re looking at significant jail time, right?” Sanchez asked.
Fleck, who has since left political consulting for auto sales, acknowledged the severity of the penalty—which also includes paying $43,000 in restitution for unreported payroll taxes. The judge scheduled Fleck’s sentencing for July 25.
“He’s accepted responsibility and we have a lot of work to be done before sentencing,” Fleck’s attorney, Phil Lauer, said outside of the courtroom.
Assistant U.S. attorney Joe Khan said prosecutors were pleased that Fleck accepted responsibility for his actions, but added, “What he did was very serious, and we expect he’ll be punished severely.”
According to the information, Fleck was hired by individuals identified as Public Official No. 1 and Public Official No. 3 and former Allentown City Controller Mary Ellen Koval, who has been charged, to raise campaign contributions from donors.