Ex-Connecticut Governor|Convicted of Corruption

     NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CN) – Former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland was convicted Friday of all seven charges of campaign corruption, for conspiring to hide his involvement in two congressional campaign cycles.
     The federal jury began deliberating Rowland’s fate Thursday afternoon. They mulled the evidence for another 5 hours Friday, and at 2:27 p.m. a court clerk announced the jury had reached a verdict.
     Rowland stood and members of his family wept as the jury foreman read the guilty verdicts aloud in the courtroom.
     Rowland was sentenced in 2005 to a year and a day in prison followed by four months of house arrest and three years probation for corruption in office.
     That conviction played a central role in the more recent charges against him.
     Prosecutors argued that Rowland’s past prevented him from working openly for political campaigns, so he offered to work for campaigns in secret, accepting payments from other entities for work he would do for candidates.
     “Mr. Rowland couldn’t sell his most valuable assets on the open market, but if he could keep it hidden, maybe then he could,” U.S. Attorney Chris Mattei told the jury in his closing arguments.
     Before his attorneys rested their case Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton reminded Rowland of his right to testify in his own defense.
     Rowland said he understood and declined.
     The defense called only one witness, an executive who worked for the nursing home company that was used to hide Rowland’s work on Lisa Wilson-Foley’s failed 2012 congressional campaign.
     Wilson-Foley and her husband Brian Foley, who own the nursing home chain, pleaded guilty in March to misdemeanor charges of hiding that Rowland was working for the campaign and getting paid through a contract with the nursing home.
     Before his conviction in 2005, Rowland served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and three terms as governor.
     When he was released from federal prison in 2006 Rowland talked about rebuilding his life. He was hired as Waterbury’s economic development director before becoming a popular afternoon radio host on WTIC 1080 AM.
     Rowland, 57, will be sentenced by Arterton on Dec. 12. Prosecutors said they would be willing to wait until after the New Year for the sentencing.
     Michael J. Gustafson, chief of the U.S. Attorney’s office Criminal Division, said the verdict should send a message to anyone who thought “cynically” that this was politics as usual.
     “It was far from that,” Gustafson said. “Our electoral system is founded on several vital principles. One of them is transparency.”
     “It ought to be – no it has to be, that voters know that what they see is what they get. In this case the defendant and others didn’t want that to happen,” Gustafson said. “The jury’s verdict today sends a very clear and simple message to candidates and people who work for campaigns. That simple message is this … put your name on it.”
     Meanwhile, Reid Weingarten, Rowland’s lead attorney stood on the steps outside the New Haven courthouse and said he was disappointed with the verdict and intended to appeal it.
     He said there were many “interesting” issues in the case and was looking forward to “litigating them further. We are going to appeal this case for sure.”
     “The prosecutors have made a very large mountain out of a very small molehill, all triggered by an all-too-mundane political dust-up in a congressional campaign,” he said.
     All seven guilty verdicts carry a maximum sentence of 50 years, but it’s unlikely Rowland would receive such a sentence under federal sentencing guidelines. Six of the counts were related to Rowland’s conspiracy as it related to Wilson-Foley’s campaign; one was related to his attempted contract with Mark Greenberg’s campaign in 2010.

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