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October 10, 2014

Pa. Grand Jury Hits City Councilwoman on Nonprofit Ties

A grand jury in eastern Pennsylvania is calling for a member of the Bethlehem City Council to step down over alleged attempts to "intimidate and influence" municipal officials into assisting a nonprofit she led, reports The Morning Call, an Allentown newspaper. The Northampton County panel said Councilwoman Karen Dolan used her influence to help the organization, which manages a historic mill owned by the city, to sidestep a nearly $128,000 construction bill and other expenses.

In a 62-page report released Thursday, jurors said witness testimony "established an arrogance and a settled purpose to assure that her nonprofit organization received public financial benefits." They recommended the matter to the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission, which can order civil penalties or refer the case for prosecution. Ms. Dolan, who was subpoenaed by the grand jury but invoked her Fifth Amendment rights, did return the newspaper's call for comment.