Federal Judge Refuses To Dismiss Rowland Corruption Case
A federal judge declined Tuesday to throw out any of the seven counts against former Gov. John Rowland, denying a motion by his legal team to dismiss the campaign corruption allegations detailed in an April grand jury indictment.
Rowland, who previously served 10 months in federal prison on a conspiracy charge after resigning the governor’s office in 2004, is facing charges relating to consulting work he performed for 2012 5th Congressional District candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley.
That work and Rowland’s $35,000 compensation weren’t reported to election regulators. The charges also stem from unsuccessful attempts by the former governor to engage another candidate, Mark Greenberg, in similar scheme in 2009.
Rowland has pleaded not guilty to the charges and his attorneys filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss the case.
The former governor’s legal team, headed by high-profile attorney Reid Weingarten, attempted to pick apart each charge. They claimed that some of the former governor’s actions were not illegal and disputed prosecutors’ allegations that documents drawn up by Rowland could be considered “false contracts.”
Judge Janet Bond Arterton denied that motion Tuesday in a 23-page decision, ruling that none of the defense team’s arguments justified dismissing the case before it goes to trial in September.
“[A]n indictment need not refute potential defenses in order to be valid… and the Court cannot make inferences regarding what the evidence will show at trial on a motion to dismiss. It is sufficient that the Superseding Indictment alleges and details how Mr. Rowland participated in an agreement to make illegal campaign contributions without refuting every potential scenario under which this arrangement could have been legal,” she wrote.
Arterton, who recently handed down a series of lengthy prison terms in fundraising conspiracy case stemming from another 2012 5th congressional district race, offered little in the way of commentary on most of the arguments presented by Rowland’s attorneys.
However, she was dismissive of an argument from the defense lawyers contending that charging Rowland with a crime based on an unexecuted contract between he and Greenberg amounted to an “inchoate thought crime.”
“Defendant cites no authority for this proposition and the Superseding Indictment does not allege any ‘inchoate thought crime,’” Arterton writes, “but rather that Mr. Rowland actually drafted” and provided Greenberg with a fictitious contract.
Last month, prosecutors were more derisive in their response to the motion to dismiss. They characterized the arguments as based on “imaginary” premises, calling one an invitation to “enter a parallel universe and imagine” a scenario which the government was never trying to prove.
Rowland’s trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 3 with jury selection starting in August. His lawyers have asked the judge for stricter juror screening tools based on the level of publicity surrounding the case.
Meanwhile, Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, have already pleaded guilty to related charges and have been cooperating with prosecutors. The two have not been sentenced.