By ANTHONY IZAGUIRRE

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The mayor of Allentown and the former mayor of Reading have been charged with corruption for a series of pay-to-play schemes officials likened to putting for-sale signs on their offices while promising political favors to deep-pocketed donors.

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and former Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer have been charged with multiple counts of bribery and fraud, according to indictments that detail how the two Democrats handed lucrative city contracts to donors who showered them with cash and gifts.

“Pawlowski and Spencer essentially put a for-sale sign up in front of city hall in Reading and in Allentown to sell their office and their services to the highest bidder,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Louis Lappen.

Prosecutors allege Pawlowski attempted to steer contracts for jobs such as streetlight upgrades, a cyber security deal and other legal work toward those who gave him money from 2012 to 2015. In total, he accepted more than $150,000 in campaign contributions in exchange for the use of his office, prosecutors said.

He allegedly tried to hide his actions by deleting emails between himself and his donors. He also had his office swept for listening devices he believed were installed by law enforcement, according to the indictment.

Pawlowski, the mayor of Pennsylvania’s third-largest city who first took office in 2006 and is now in his third term, denied wrongdoing at a Wednesday press conference and said he will not resign.

“I’m disappointed about the filing of these allegations against me.” he said, “But I want to make it clear to everyone, I have done nothing wrong.”

Spencer, who was elected Reading’s mayor in 2012, sought to keep large sums of money flowing to a re-election campaign and is reported to have made clear to donors he would use the power of his office to punish those who didn’t provide satisfactory cash contributions, prosecutors said.

In one instance, Spencer agreed to award a contract worth $227,000 to an engineering firm after a representative for the company told him he would receive a $1,500 contribution and four tickets to a Philadelphia Phillies game. In another, prosecutors said Spencer bribed the president of Reading’s city council to repeal an anti-corruption statute. The council president was previously sentenced to two years in federal prison for taking the bribe.

The federal investigation of the two city governments began in 2013 and previously led to charges against a slew of lower-ranking city officials and contractors. It became public in 2015 when FBI agents raided both city halls as well as the homes of Pawlowski and Spencer.

The indictments also named three others, including the former school board president in Reading, the state’s fifth-largest city. The suspects are expected to appear in court Thursday and next Tuesday, officials said.

No attorney was listed in court documents for Spencer.

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By TAFI MUKUNYADZI

Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – A sculpture illustrating the incomplete progress in the push for educational equality will go on display next month outside Little Rock Central High School to commemorate the 60th anniversary of its historic desegregation, officials announced Wednesday.

The statue, titled “United,” features two people raising their arms and holding two large rings that don’t quite interlock. Officials say the image demonstrates the work still to be done toward guaranteeing educational rights for students of diverse backgrounds.

Nine students, known as the “Little Rock Nine,” were escorted into the formerly all-white school by 101st Airborne Division soldiers on Sept. 25, 1957, after Gov. Orval Faubus had used the National Guard to keep the students out.

The school’s desegregation took place three years after a U.S. Supreme Court landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision that declared school racial segregation as unconstitutional.

Park Ranger Jodi Morris told The Associated Press that the eight members of the Little Rock Nine who are still alive have been a part of the planning process.

“They’ve been consulted from the very beginning about the commemoration, and we’ve constantly been getting their feedback,” Morris said.

Morris said officials are hopeful the civil rights pioneers will be able to attend the ceremony and other events under the theme of ‘Reflections of Progress.’

Officials also announced a commemoration ceremony, interfaith ceremony and fundraising concert and unveiled a 60th anniversary logo – designed by current students – featuring the school’s facade.

Details of the commemoration ceremony haven’t been released. Former President Bill Clinton spoke at the 50th anniversary ceremony.

Morris said the school is a reflection of a more diverse Little Rock, but there is still work to be done when it comes to creating a more equal society.

“When you’re talking about things like integration and equality and justice and freedom, or like preserving a historic building, the work is never done,” Morris said.

A scheduled panel discussion featuring the children of the Little Rock Nine and an education forum are aimed at continuing the preservation of Central High’s history.

Despite the work that’s left to be done, Central High senior Breyona Butler said the school is doing a good job of keeping its legacy alive making sure it’s is a part of daily student life.

“I know for a fact that every student knows the history we have,” Butler said. “We go to the visitor center across the street, we have civics and we talk about it every day.”

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By LINDSAY WHITEHURST

Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A small plane crashed on a Utah highway Wednesday, killing two couples heading for a vacation but narrowly missing cars when it barreled across the lanes through a gap in traffic.

The plane went down shortly after takeoff from a municipal airport popular with private pilots north of Salt Lake City, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said. No injuries were reported on the ground after it snarled traffic and left behind blackened wreckage.

Layne Clarke, 48, was flying his wife and two friends as they departed for a vacation, said family friend and colleague Jeff Henderson. Clarke owned an automotive paint business and had gotten his pilot’s license about five years ago after a friend got him interested in aviation, he said.

Clarke was a “very energetic, wonderful man,” Henderson said.

Also killed in the crash was his wife, Diana Clarke, 46, of Taylor, Utah, and their friends Perry, 45, and Sarah Huffaker, 42, of West Haven, Utah, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Administration are investigating the cause of the crash. It closed most lanes of Interstate 15 in Riverdale, about 35 miles north of Salt Lake City.

The Beech A36 Bonanza crashed about a half-mile from a nearby municipal airport. It hit on the edge of the interstate, went across the northbound lanes during an opening in traffic and landed in the median, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Royce told the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden.

It appeared the plane was out of control and the pilot was trying to land it on the interstate just before the crash, semitrailer driver Obdulio Ruiz told the newspaper.

Driver April Demetropolis was on her way to work when the plane crashed so close to her car that she felt the reverberation and heat from the explosion, the Deseret News reported.

“Out of nowhere from the east side, a plane came swooping in and just nose-dived into the middle of the freeway,” Demetropolis told the newspaper. “It exploded. The flames engulfed the entire street.”

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By DENISE LAVOIE

AP Legal Affairs Writer

BOSTON (AP) – In the 1960s and ’70s, Paul Shanley was a popular street priest who counseled gay and troubled youths.

Decades later, he was convicted of raping a boy at a Newton church in the 1980s and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Shanley, now 86, is due to be released Friday, prompting a firestorm of protest from sexual abuse victims.

On Wednesday, two men who are among dozens to accuse Shanley of sexual abuse appeared at a news conference with their lawyers and victim advocates to warn the public about Shanley’s release and to ask for help in monitoring him.

John Harris said he was a 21-year-old struggling with his decision to reveal his homosexuality in 1979 when someone suggested he go see Shanley for counseling.

“He raped me under the pretense of helping me,” Harris said.

Denis O’Connor said he was 14 when Shanley sodomized him in the late 1960s.

“If he’s released, we’ve got more children that will be abused,” O’Connor said.

Boston attorneys Mitchell Garabedian and Carmen Durso said they represent dozens of men who allege that Shanley sexually abused them as children.

Prosecutors sought to hold Shanley in custody beyond his sentence under a law that allows civil commitment of people who are deemed to be sexually dangerous. But two experts hired by the state found that he did not meet the legal criteria to continue to hold him.

Durso said he was told by prosecutors that the experts cited his advanced age as one reason he is no longer dangerous.

“We believe that he continues to pose a threat,” Durso said.

“If Paul Shanley doesn’t qualify as a sexually dangerous person, then nobody will qualify,” he said.

Shanley, who was convicted in 2005, will be placed on probation for 10 years after he is released. Garabedian said Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan told him that Shanley will not be required to wear an electronic tracking device. He will be required to register as a Level 3, or high-risk, sex offender, a designation that means his photo and other information about him will be posted on the state Sex Offender Registry Board’s website.

Garabedian said Shanley’s upcoming release “has caused many victims to have their wounds reopened.” He urged anyone who sees Shanley to contact the local police department to report his whereabouts so authorities can track his movements.

Rodney Ford, whose son said he was sexually abused by Shanley as a child in the 1980s, agreed.

“There’s nothing more that we can do than to harass Paul Shanley,” he said.

Robert Shaw Jr., an attorney who represented Shanley in his appeal, said Shanley is now “extremely frail.”

“The fact that certain persons in our community are calling for the harassment and tracking of Paul Shanley by the public strikes me as an issue for law enforcement,” he said.

“It’s outrageous. It’s deeply disturbing. We don’t permit vigilantism in this country. Stalking and harassment are crimes,” he said.

The clergy sex abuse scandal exploded in Boston in 2002 after The Boston Globe revealed that dozens of priests had molested and raped children for decades while church supervisors covered it up and shuffled abusive priests from parish to parish.

Shanley was defrocked by the Vatican in 2004 after dozens of men came forward and reported being sexually abused by him. During his trial, his lawyer challenged the reliability of the accuser’s repressed memories.

Internal church records that were made public during the scandal contained documents indicating Shanley had attended a forum with other people who later went on to form the North American Man-Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA, a pedophile advocacy organization.

It was not immediately clear where Shanley will live after he’s released. The state Department of Correction declined to comment.

The Archdiocese of Boston, the fourth-largest archdiocese in the country, with more than 1.8 million Catholics, called Shanley’s crimes against children “reprehensible.” Spokesman Terrence Donilon said Shanley will not receive any kind of financial support or benefits from the archdiocese.

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BOSTON (AP) – Boston police say two people have been wounded, one critically, in a stabbing at a popular downtown public park.

Police say three people were arrested after the attack Wednesday evening on Boston Common as they attempted to flee on a subway train.

Police say they responded within 20 seconds to a report of a fight on the Common just after 5:20 p.m.

Police Commissioner William B. Evans says one victim had been stabbed in the stomach and was in critical condition at Tufts Medical Center. He says the other victim suffered a superficial wound to his back.

Police are investigating what led to the stabbing. The names of those involved were not immediately released.

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By SCOTT BAUER

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker just got what may be the biggest political boost of his career, and it couldn’t have come at a much better time.

President Donald Trump’s announcement Wednesday that Wisconsin had won the high-stakes fight to be home to Foxconn’s first U.S. manufacturing plant – a $10 billion investment that could mean 3,000 jobs or more for the state – comes as Walker is preparing to run for a third term.

It not only gives Walker’s job-creation credentials a jolt but also allows him to further distance himself from his biggest failure – not fulfilling his 2010 campaign promise to create 250,000 jobs in four years.

“Walk-off grand slam home run,” said Brandon Scholz, a longtime Republican operative in Wisconsin and former state party director. He called the Foxconn news the pinnacle of Walker’s time as governor and a fulfillment of what he’s been promising to do.

“It’s going to be tough for any of his prospective opponents to criticize him for not doing the things he’s supposed to do as governor, for not improving the Wisconsin economy,” Scholz said. “The one word response will be: Foxconn.”

Walker stormed into office in 2010 declaring that Wisconsin was “Open for Business,” but after more than six years he has yet to fulfill his original job-creation promise.

Walker has been struggling to rebuild good will in Wisconsin after his failed presidential run. His approval ratings hit its lowest point at 37 percent just as he ended his presidential campaign in September 2015. It has slowly grown back to 48 percent, the same as it was at this point in 2013 before he ran for a second term in 2014.

Walker’s economic record has long been a sore spot, and even then-candidate Trump blasted Walker about it when they were both running for president in 2016.

“He’s not doing a great job,” Trump said of Walker in 2016. “But your governor has convinced you (Wisconsin) doesn’t have problems.”

Those criticisms were long forgotten as Trump and Walker stood triumphantly together in the White House on Wednesday for the Foxconn announcement.

Walker was able to land the deal thanks in large part to Wisconsin’s deep connections with the White House. House Speaker Paul Ryan, whose congressional district will be home to the plant, worked closely with Trump and Walker on the deal. So too did White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, a Kenosha native who said he talked up the potential of southeast Wisconsin to Trump for the plant.

Foxconn’s promise to hire 3,000 people – and maybe as many as 13,000 eventually – will give Walker something to run on that Democrats will have a hard time deflecting.

“In politics there are ups and downs,” said Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, who represents a part of the state near where the plant would locate.

“Obviously this would be a plus for him and the entire state, potentially,” Barca said. “But one deal does not make an administration. I don’t think he could point to one deal and say this is what he has accomplished in seven or eight years of governing.”

Even longtime Democratic critics had a hard time saying anything bad about the deal.

“10,000 good-paying, family sustaining jobs for Wisconsin is a great thing for our state – period,” said Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik, who is challenging Walker next year. “This should not be a partisan issue.”

But Gronik and other Democrats called for transparency in the deal cut by the state.

Democratic state Sen. Chris Larson said Walker has “left a trail of broken promises” and that voters shouldn’t be convinced the jobs will come.

Scholz, the Republican strategist, said Walker critics will have a hard time making their case when it comes to Foxconn.

“For those that want to naysay this project, let them go ahead,” Scholz said, “because they’re on the outside looking in.”

___

Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP

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By MATTHEW BROWN

Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – Two defendants were given lengthy federal prison sentences Wednesday in separate, back-to-back horrific crimes of violence against children last year that rattled residents of a Montana American Indian reservation and prompted tribal leaders to blame rampant drug use.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris sentenced a woman from the Fort Peck Reservation to 20 years in prison for the murder of a 13-month-old who had been under her care. Less than two hours earlier, Morris handed down a 42-year prison term to a man who kidnapped and raped a 4-year-old girl on the reservation.

Tribal leaders said the crimes, which occurred within weeks of one another, were rooted in the rising scourge of methamphetamine use on the sparsely-populated reservation in northeastern Montana near the U.S. border with Canada.

While the sentencings closed out two cases that put a spotlight on the problem, tribal officials have said drug use continues and that they lack the resources to deal with it.

Fort Peck is home to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes and has a population of about 10,000 people.

In the murder case, prosecutors said Janelle Red Dog, 43, abused 13-month-old Kenzley Olson, used methamphetamine while the child was unconscious and when the girl stopped breathing, put her body in a duffel bag and threw it in a trash can.

Red Dog pleaded guilty in May to second-degree murder after acknowledging she hit Kenzley twice on April 18, 2016 in an attempt to quiet her.

The child died of multiple blunt force injuries and an autopsy found she had numerous bruises from head to toe in various stages of healing, suggesting a pattern of continued physical abuse and neglect.

Red Dog had been caring for Kenzley for three to four weeks prior to her death, court records said. Tribal Chairman Floyd Azure has said Kenzley’s mother was being held in the tribal jail when the girl died.

Red Dog’s mother, Rhea Starr, said her daughter was caring for Kenzley because no one else would.

In the kidnapping case, John William Lieba II was accused of chasing down a 4-year-old girl, brutally raping her and leaving her for dead in an abandoned pickup in the middle of winter near the town of Wolf Point.

A jury convicted Lieba of kidnapping, aggravated sexual abuse of a child and assault resulting in serious injury on a minor. He faced up to life in prison.

He became a suspect almost immediately after the girl’s Feb. 26, 2016 disappearance and was arrested a day later.

A friend of the victim testified at his trial that she watched Lieba snatch the four-year-old girl after they’d been playing in a Wolf Point park. He was recognized by the mother of another girl he chased earlier the same night in the park but who got away, according to court records.

The victim was not found for two days, when a sheriff’s deputy noticed her shoeless footprints in a patch of mud behind a fertilizer plant and discovered the girl – alive but traumatized – on a makeshift bed in the cab of an old pickup truck.

Bruises and burst blood vessels on her head and neck indicated Lieba had tried to strangle the girl, according to law enforcement officers and doctors who examined her.

The defendant’s attorneys said Lieba had stopped taking his anti-psychotic medication prior to the kidnapping and could not remember the events.

___

Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter at www.twitter.com/matthewbrownap

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By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER

Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) – A judge on Wednesday sentenced a Hawaii man to four years in prison for harassing a pregnant Hawaiian monk seal.

Hawaiian monk seals are among the world’s most critically endangered marine mammals. There are about 1,400 in the wild.

Shylo Kaena Akuna harassed the seal in April 2016 at Kauai’s Salt Pond Beach Park, said Kauai Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar.

KHON-TV reported previously that bystanders recorded video showing a man wading into the water, swinging at the endangered animal and possibly throwing sand at it.

“Akuna was apparently highly intoxicated at the time,” Kollar said in a statement. “Animal abuse is often a precursor to other types of violence and cannot be tolerated in our community.”

The seal gave birth to a female pup about a week after the incident, Kollar said.

Akuna was sentenced to a year in jail last month for the unrelated theft and slaughter of a goat. He also faces charges on another unrelated case involving an alleged March burglary of a room at the Poipu Grand Hyatt hotel.

Akuna’s defense attorney, Mark Zenger, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

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By TOM HAYS

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) – “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli has kept up his trademark trolling on social media during his securities fraud trial – calling the case “bogus” – but the jury won’t hear him defend himself in court.

The government’s last witness testified on Tuesday, a day after a lawyer for the former biotech CEO told the court that his client had chosen not to take the witness stand. Closing arguments are set for Thursday, with deliberations expected to begin as early as Friday.

Shkreli, 34, is best known for raising the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent and targeting his critics with online rants so nasty that they got him kicked off Twitter for harassment. He was arrested in 2015 on unrelated federal charges accusing him of lying to investors in a pair of failed hedge funds.

Although not part of the case, the price-gouging scandal has hung over the trial and burdened Shkreli with a likability deficit that made it even more of a longshot that he would testify. But that hasn’t stopped him from using the internet to vent after spending long days sitting at the defense table.

In one of a flurry of recent Facebook posts, he wrote: “This was a bogus case from day one.”

He also has taken aim at news coverage of the trial, a la President Donald Trump, writing, “More trash from the NYTimes. Is there an intelligent writer-editor pair at this company? Who would read this ‘news’?”

Even prosecutors aren’t off-limits: Earlier this month, he taunted them as “the cowardly government,” while he griped about their trial tactics. “This is not North Korea,” he wrote.

Although they won’t hear from him in court and are under orders to avoid anything about him in the cyber realm, jurors in recent days have gotten a taste of Shkreli’s disdain for investors and mercurial demeanor.

Government evidence introduced on Tuesday included emails in which Shkreli snapped at a lawyer charged separately with conspiring with him in a scheme to hide hedge fund client losses and pay them back, against their wishes, with stock in a new drug company called Retrophin.

“I am really starting to think you are inept,” Shkreli told the lawyer in one email. When the lawyer asked for guidance on how to divvy up shares, he replied, “Take from anyone. I don’t care. Do the math.”

In other testimony, a former business partner described how Shkreli sent his wife a threatening letter.

“Your husband has stolen $1.6 million from me,” it read. “I hope to see you and your four children homeless. I will do whatever I can to assure this.”

The defense has countered by trying to draw attention to the fact that the investors who claim they were victims of fraud ultimately made big profits once the drug company went public.

Retrophin CEO Stephen Aselage testified that even though he had misgivings about Shkreli, he considered him a “brilliant intellect” and a “visionary.”

Some managers at the drug company “described him as the Pied Piper,” he said. “He tells a story, sings a song and everyone wants to follow him.”

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