Former Pennsylvania Treasurer Barbara Hafer has been sentenced to three years’ probation for lying to federal agents investigating pay-to-play politics in state and local government.
In June, Hafer pleaded guilty to charges that she hid from the FBI $675,000 in consulting fees she received from Chester County businessman Richard Ireland, who was himself charged for allegedly making “secret campaign contributions” to indicted ex-state Treasurer Rob McCord and promising to put McCord on his “payroll” in exchange for McCord’s decision to invest millions in state money into businesses affiliated with Ireland, prosecutors alleged. Ireland was later acquitted.
In addition to probation, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III of the Middle District of Pennsylvania on Tuesday ordered Hafer to pay a $50,000 fine.
Hafer was charged in July 2016 and entered into a plea agreement with the government June 8.
“Our system of justice depends on federal law enforcement agents receiving complete and accurate information from individuals who are being interviewed as part of a criminal investigation, particularly a high-profile public corruption investigation. Lying to federal agents is a serious crime and the United States Attorney’s Office treats these offenses accordingly,” said Harrisburg-based U.S. Attorney Bruce Brandler after Hafer entered her guilty plea.
Hafer’s attorney, John A. Knorr of Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote in Pittsburgh, did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.
Ireland was acquitted midtrial in March after botched testimony from the government’s star witness: McCord.
Jones said in an opinion that McCord’s testimony was “clearly deficient” and found that “a reasonable jury could not find beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of an explicit quid pro quo relative to Mr. Ireland’s campaign contributions to Mr. McCord,” according to a court transcript.
On April 29, 2016, the federal investigation also netted John Estey, an ex-chief of staff to former Gov. Ed Rendell. Estey was charged with using a lobbying firm as a pass-through for campaign donations to state politicians. He pleaded guilty in May 2016.
Eight days prior to Estey’s indictment, Allentown political consultant Michael Fleck pleaded guilty to using his consulting business in a conspiracy involving public officials offering government contracts to potential donors in exchange for campaign donations.
The investigation also secured guilty pleas from Eron Lloyd, former special assistant to Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer, and Dale Wiles, former assistant city solicitor for the city of Allentown, who were indicted on campaign-finance-related corruption charges in late November.
Other officials, including Allentown City Controller Mary Ellen Koval and Garret Strathearn, the former finance director of Allentown, were hit with related corruption charges.