Update: Rob McCord pleads guilty to extortion charges

Written by The Associated Press | Feb 17, 2015 11:57 AM

Photo by AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File

(Harrisburg) --  Ex-state treasurer Rob McCord is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to extortion charges in connection with allegations he tried to strong arm state contractors into donating to his failed gubernatorial campaign.  

McCord pleaded guilty earlier today in federal court in Harrisburg to two charges of extortion. Each count is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

“The citizens of the Commonwealth expect and deserve public officials who perform their duties free of deceit, favoritism, bias, self-enrichment, concealment and conflict of interest,” said Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Hanko of the Philadelphia Division of the FBI. “Public corruption is an erosion of the public’s trust in our system of government, and the FBI stands committed to holding public officials accountable when they violate their oaths of office and betray that trust.”

No sentencing date was set. 

The 55-year-old McCord was serving a second term as treasurer when he abruptly resigned Jannuary 30 and revealed he faced federal criminal charges. 

Prosecutors say he threatened a law firm and a property management firm with the loss of state government business if they didn't contribute a satisfactory amount of money to his campaign.

"The abuse of power by elected officials tears at the fabric of society, undermines the rule of law and weakens public confidence in government," said Major Andrew
Ashmar of the state police's Bureau of Criminal Investigation. "The Pennsylvania State Police is steadfast in our commitment to bring to justice those who use the power of their office for personal gain rather than serving the best interest of the public."

In telephone conversations apparently recorded by investigators last spring, he allegedly suggested he could make things difficult for the firms as treasurer. 

Below is an earlier version of this story:

(Harrisburg) -- Former state Treasurer Rob McCord is expected in a federal courtroom in Harrisburg today.

He'll plead guilty to two counts of extortion stemming from allegations that he used his treasurer position to threaten two potential donors during his failed gubernatorial campaign.  

It's been a hard fall for McCord.

He announced his candidacy for governor in September 2013, fresh off his re-election as state treasurer.

Less than a year-and-a-half later, McCord is out of public office after being beaten soundly in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

He also is facing possible prison time in a campaign finance case. 

The investigation has fueled speculation about what led investigators to record McCord's conversations, what took so long to charge him and whether he cooperated against anybody else in the political or finance communities.  

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