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Federal Grand Jury Indicts Rowland on 7 Counts; Former Gov Reportedly Turned Down 18-Month Plea Deal

by Staff Report | Apr 10, 2014 6:24pm
(20) Comments | Commenting has expired

(Updated 8 p.m.) A federal grand jury in New Haven indicted former Gov. John G. Rowland on Thursday, charging him with attempting to conceal the extent of his involvement in two federal election campaigns in the 5th Congressional District.

WTIC Rowland, 56, is expected to be arraigned at U.S. District Court in New Haven on Friday at 2:30 p.m.

The indictments follow revelations two weeks ago in which Rowland was implicated in a 2012 campaign finance scheme involving the 5th Congressional District election campaign. Former Republican candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, pleaded guilty to federal charges and said they had illegally paid Rowland $35,000 in campaign consulting fees without reporting the payments to the Federal Election Commission.

Thursday’s indictment outlines Rowland’s alleged role in the conspiracy with Wilson-Foley and her husband, but also goes back further than Election 2012.

The indictment alleges that in October 2009, Rowland “devised a scheme” to work for the campaign of another candidate, reportedly Mark Greenberg, who was seeking election in the 5th Congressional District in 2009 and 2010.

The indictment says Rowland attempted “to conceal from the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) and the public the fact that he would be paid to perform that work. To make the illegal arrangement appear legitimate, Rowland drafted a sham consulting contract pursuant to which he would purportedly perform work for a separate corporate entity, referred to in the indictment as the ‘Animal Center.’”

Greenberg owns an animal rescue center called the Simon Foundation in Bloomfield.

The indictment continues: “By proposing to run the campaign-related payments to Rowland through the Animal Center, Rowland sought to prevent actual campaign contributions and expenditures from being reported to the FEC and the public.”

Greenberg has stated that he rebuffed Rowland’s overture.

But during the 2012 election cycle, the indictment further alleges that Rowland “conspired with Wilson-Foley, Foley, and others to conceal from the FEC and the public that Rowland was paid money in exchange for services he provided to Wilson-Foley’s campaign.”

Brian Foley was owner of a Connecticut nursing home company and a number of other related companies, including a real estate company.

The indictment says that in order to retain Rowland’s services for the campaign while reducing the risk that Rowland’s paid role with the campaign would be disclosed to the public, Rowland, Wilson-Foley and Foley agreed that the former governor and afternoon radio talk show host would be paid by Foley to work on the campaign through a “fictitious contract.”

The indictment says the contract outlined an agreement purportedly for consulting services between Rowland and the law offices of an attorney who worked for Foley’s nursing home company.

Pursuant to that agreement, the indictment says Foley made regular payments to Rowland for his work on behalf of Wilson-Foley’s campaign and routed those payments from his real estate company through the law offices of the attorney. Rowland is further alleged to have provided nominal services to Foley’s nursing home company in order to create a “cover” that he was being paid for those nominal services when, in fact, he was being paid in exchange for his work on behalf of Wilson-Foley’s campaign.

At the time, Wilson-Foley was concerned about Rowland showing up as a paid consultant in her campaign reports because of his previous corruption conviction. Rowland spent 10 months in prison after resigning the governor’s office in 2004 and pleading guilty to a conspiracy count. He also admitted to committing mail fraud by accepting gratuities and not disclosing them, and to defrauding the Internal Revenue Service by not paying taxes on those gratuities.

According to recent court documents from the Wilson-Foley case, even Rowland himself recognized that his help on her congressional campaign could be problematic if it were to be publicized.

“I am just a volunteer helping you and ‘many other Republican candidates’ in case anyone asks,” Rowland emailed Wilson-Foley in November 2011. “I want to stay under the radar as much as possible and get the job done.”

Rowland emerged from prison in 2006, but didn’t re-enter public life until 2008 when he took a job as Waterbury’s economic development director. He later landed the gig at WTIC in 2010 and over the past few years has been encouraged by his listeners to again run for public office. Last week, Rowland resigned from his radio gig to take care of some “personal issues.”

Hearst Connecticut is reporting that Rowland turned down an 18-month plea deal. Instead, the former governor now faces two counts of falsification of records in a federal investigation, one count of conspiracy, two counts of causing false statements to be made to the FEC, and two counts of causing illegal campaign contributions. The various charges carry maximum sentences of one to 20 years in prison.

Meanwhile, the Connecticut Republican Party was getting ready Thursday for its biggest fundraiser of the year in Stamford.

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, who has been mentioned as a possible Republican presidential contender in 2016, will be the keynote speaker at the event.

The Republican Party distanced itself from Rowland as the festivities got underway.

“While there may be great fascination in this story, the fact is John Rowland has no connection to the Connecticut Republican Party nor has he for over 10 years,” Jerry Labriola Jr., Republican party chairman, said in a statement.

But the Connecticut Democratic Party was relishing the confluence of events.

“We’ve definitely seen this movie before, and we know how badly it ends,” Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said. “The CT GOP bringing back John Rowland’s close friend, Jeb Bush, on the eve of more expected felony indictments for Rowland only reinforces the fact that the Connecticut Republican Party is still influenced by Rowland.”

DiNardo was referring to a 2003 visit Bush made back when Rowland was governor before he resigned in 2004.

Greenberg, who was attending the Prescott Bush fundraiser in Stamford with his wife Thursday, was not willing to comment about the indictment.

“I really can’t talk about this at this time. I’m here at the Bush dinner and I’m here with my wife and I’d like to celebrate at this time,” Greenberg said as his dinner arrived.

Greenberg said he hadn’t read the indictment.


RELATED:

Wilson-Foley, Husband Implicate Rowland in Guilty Pleas

WTIC Airs Rowland’s Show Despite Calls To The Contrary

FBI Probe Has Little Impact On Republican Primary

Will Federal Probe Decide Republican Contest?

OP-ED | We Should Have Seen This Rowland Scandal Coming

Krayeske Will File Appeal of FCC Response To Rowland, WTIC, Wilson-Foley Complaint

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(20) Comments

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | April 10, 2014  6:50pm

DrHunterSThompson

Fun!

HST

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 10, 2014  7:40pm

John needs to go to prison.

However, based on emails that have come out in the last 24 hours regarding Lois Lerner and the IRS scandal, she needs to get ten times what John gets.

Le’ts see how justice works for Republicans that do wrong and Democrats that do “worse wrong”.

posted by: StanMuzyk | April 10, 2014  7:46pm

Bad.

posted by: perturbed | April 10, 2014  8:34pm

perturbed

Oh darn! Does this mean it’s too late to hire the porcine pol for some Motivational Inspiration?

Here’s a pearl from his website, Motivational Inspirational Speaker, former Governor of Connecticut John G. Rowland

My thought on experience…
“Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with it that counts. No one learns from success, you really only learn from your mistakes and failures.”
John G.Rowland

One can only marvel at the wisdom this man must have accumulated over the years.

Contact info is at the bottom of the page . . .

Available for:

☺  Corporate Off-Site Training
☺  Employee Training Seminars
☺  Management Team Building

Themes for consideration:

☺  Overcoming adversity and surviving
☺  The Rise to Power, the Arrogance of Power, and the “Real” Power.
☺  Developing Leadership skills.
☺  You’ve Achieved Success, Now What About Substance?
☺  The Role of Faith in the Workplace.

For Colleges and Universities:

☺  The Ethics Dilemma in Corporate America
☺  An Inside Look at the Workings of Washington
☺  Choosing to Serve the People: A Career in Public Service

(You just can’t make this stuff up!)

Also from his website:

At age 37, Rowland was the nation’s youngest governor and was called by the Wall Street Journal “one of our nation’s rising stars.”

The Mirror reports a more complete chronology:

He was a congressman at 27, governor at 37, and a felon at 47. Now, a month shy of his 57th birthday, he is under indictment.

Happy B-day, ex-guv! We state employees remember all you’ve done for us!

They say you can’t keep a good man down. (Unfortunately, Johnny seems determined to prove the converse is also true.)

—perturbed

posted by: Lawrence | April 10, 2014  8:39pm

“the fact is John Rowland has no connection to the Connecticut Republican Party”

(expletive deleted) Labriola, ROWLAND HAS BEEN YOUR RIGHT-WING CT REPUBLICAN RADIO MOUTHPIECE FOR YEARS. OWN IT.

What are you going to say when longtime CT GOP Chair Chris Healy is identified and possibly indicted? ‘Never heard of the guy’?? 

Have a nice fundraiser!

posted by: art vandelay | April 10, 2014  11:09pm

art vandelay

The guy serves 10 months in a Federal Country Club, becomes an “Economic Development Coordinator” for Waterbury & a popular afternoon drive time radio talk show host.  He had it made!  Instead he’s going back and this time for a LONG LONG TIME!  What a fool.

posted by: CT Jim | April 11, 2014  4:27am

Once again Big Joe try’s to divert attention away from the scandal by changing the subject but once again he’s wrong. Joe you do know Lois Lerner was a GW Bush appointment right?

posted by: perturbed | April 11, 2014  6:46am

perturbed

For those nostalgic for the good ole days, here are a couple of video clips courtesy of C-SPAN.

First we see Johnny G., gulping, finally admitting the obvious (he’s a liar):

January 7, 2004
Connecticut Governor Address

“Local television news coverage of Governor Rowland’s public apology to the state for accepting gifts, and deceiving the public about the gifts, was shown. He said that he would continue to serve his term as governor.”

Unbelievably, if I recall correctly, even after this explicit admission of dishonesty a huge percentage of state residents responded in a poll that they believed he was honest! (Fool me once…?)

Next, we have John Grosvenor finally ending our collective misery:

June 21, 2004
Governor Resignation Announcement

“Governor Rowland announced that he would resign at noon on July 1, 2004. His decision came after the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the House Special Committee of Inquiry holding hearings on his possible impeachment could compel the governor to testify before the committee. Governor Rowland was facing impeachment proceedings after admitting that he had received favors from friends and state workers.”

I’ll never forget the sense of relief and vindication.

It seems his arrogance is still getting the best of him. If he was hoping to avoid any jail time in rejecting a plea bargain, I predict another sad day for Johnny. As is so often the case, his clumsy attempts to cover his tracks may prove more damning than the initial offense.

—perturbed

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 11, 2014  8:13am

CT Jim not diverting attention.

Rowland lied about 35000 dollars for personal gain.

I could care less who appointed Lois Lerner. It appears that she tried to quash free speech and intimidate private citizens with the use of the IRS who everyone fears.

Rowland needs to go to the slammer but what she did according to these emails goes to the heart of our country. We know the players in the Rowland thing but would really like to know who the “WE” is in her incriminating emails beyond people on Congressman Elijah Cummings staff. Kind of explains his desire (and outbursts)to quash this investigation or did you not hear about that on MSNBC or NPR?

posted by: Bluecoat | April 11, 2014  10:43am

First I can that I was never a fan of his Radio show, but everyone is still due their day in court.
And what will happen if there is Prosecutorial abuse?
Prof. Glenn Reynolds writes about this all the time and has a solution:
<http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/03/20/a-corrupt-criminal-justice-system>
As Reynolds points out, while a criminal trial positively bristles with due process—especially the jury’s power to determine guilt—the pretrial process has little due process. Prosecutors decide whom to investigate and what charges to file. Grand juries seldom refuse to indict.

Reynolds has solutions:


“First, prosecutors should have “skin in the game” — if someone’s charged with 100 crimes but convicted of only one, the state should have to pay 99% of his legal fees. This would discourage overcharging. (So would judicial oversight, but we’ve seen little enough of that.) Second, plea-bargain offers should be disclosed at trial, so that judges and juries can understand just how serious the state really thinks the offense is. Empowering juries and grand juries (a standard joke is that any competent prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich) would also provide more supervision. And finally, I think that prosecutors should be stripped of their absolute immunity to suit — an immunity created by judicial activism, not by statute — and should be subject to civil damages for misconduct such as withholding evidence.” -Univ. of Tennessee Law Professor Glen Reynolds

posted by: Bluecoat | April 11, 2014  10:51am

Here is an interesting footnote in Glen Reynolds’s Columbia Law Review essay - Ham Sandwich Nation - Due Process When Everything is a Crime - from July 2013:
“How many crimes are there now? Too many:

There are now more than 4,000 federal crimes, an increase of one-third since 1980. Many of those crimes, spread out through some 27,000 pages of the U.S. Code, incorporate violations of federal regulations that are in turn spread throughout the tens of thousands of pages of the Code of Federal Regulations. As a result, even teams of legal researchers—let alone ordinary citizens—cannot reliably ascertain what federal law prohibits.”

posted by: NoNonsense2014 | April 11, 2014  11:01am

Nancy DiNardo’s statement is absolutely ridiculous. The GOP got Jeb Bush to speak because he’s Rowland’s friend and it proves the CT GOP is still influenced by Rowland? Laughable! But I guess that’s what happens when being hyper-partisan interferes with ability to think clearly.

posted by: StanMuzyk | April 11, 2014  11:08am

@Lawrence: You never stop and are always BIASED criticizing anyone with a Republican background—but deem all Democrats are “guilty without sin.” Rowland is of Roman Catholic faith.  Do you now also dislike Catholics?  You like being “a judge and jury.’

posted by: art vandelay | April 11, 2014  11:53am

art vandelay

@NoNonsence2014,
Nancy DeNardo is just towing the party line.
Her statements are right out of Saul Alinsky’s book 12 Rules for Radicals.  It’s the Bible of the Democrat Party.

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 11, 2014  11:55am

Reynolds has some very interesting comments.

The Rowland story is of course interesting to those of us in CT, but the biggest story we should all be worried about is what is happening in Nevada.

When you have individuals getting arrested for taking pictures in what the federal government determines is a non-free speech zones (the persons house was where it was taken), the state of Nevada, militia people, and others facing off against snipers and other heavily armed government people from Bureau of Land Management and who knows what other agency, it’s the most important story out there.

Not Obamacare, not Benghazi, not IRS,not NSA, but every American should learn the facts of that story and ask us how close we want to get to living in a society where the federal government can do that, or do we want to fight back?

posted by: StanMuzyk | April 11, 2014  1:05pm

@Joebigjoe: Our state government led by Gov. Malloy—allows for us to live in a society where the federal government can do what they want. Malloy won’t fight Pres. Obama and his controlled Congress.  God bless America—but unfortunately we removed GOD from our protection and the Devil has prevailed ever since.

posted by: Lawrence | April 11, 2014  7:01pm

Stan, I have seen plenty of thoughtful, intelligent, insightful, sad and well-balanced comments from Republicans today about Mr. Rowland’s troubles. They are to be applauded.

Mr. Labriola’s was not one of those kind of comments. It was wholly transparent and self-serving and needed to be criticized, as it has been by most of the news media today and by hundreds of thousands of state residents I am sure.

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 12, 2014  7:55am

What I haven’t seen discussed anywhere (maybe I missed it) is what Rowland’s defense will be? Has anyone seen what that strategy could be?

posted by: StanMuzyk | April 12, 2014  10:01am

@Joebigjoe: it’s strictly “a lawyer’s game” now. They make the big bucks for their strategies

posted by: StanMuzyk | April 12, 2014  11:24am

Lawrence:  We are ALL sinners.  Instead of joining the pack to condemn John Rowland—“let’s try praying to forgive the man for his apparent transgressions.”  Besides, he has not been found guilty of the federal charges against him,  Let the lawyer’s game play out before we condemn the man. Give Rowland the benefit of a doubt. It’s called JUSTICE.