HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — When former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland is sentenced for a second time, federal prosecutors are expected to urge a judge to impose a nearly four-year prison term that they said in court documents would “finally and fully” address Rowland’s “troubling personal history.”
Rowland’s lawyers, meanwhile, insist he should never have faced criminal charges and are expected to appeal the convictions. They have said in court documents that Rowland’s “exemplary character” should be acknowledged and any sentence should be below the federal guideline range of 18 to 24 months in prison.
A federal court jury in New Haven convicted Rowland in September of federal charges that he conspired to hide payment for work on two congressional campaigns. His sentencing on Wednesday will come 10 years to the day that he was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for accepting illegal gifts while in office, including trips and improvements to his lakeside cottage.
Prosecutors said Rowland was paid $35,000 to work on the failed 2012 campaign of Republican congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley and conspired to hide those payments through a consulting contract with a business owned by her husband, Brian Foley. They say he tried to strike a similar deal in 2010 with another failed GOP congressional candidate, Mark Greenberg.
Wilson-Foley and her husband pleaded guilty in the case. Wilson-Foley awaits sentencing, while Foley was sentenced to three years of probation.
Rowland’s convictions were in addition to a $2,000 ethics fine and $1,919 charity donation he was ordered to pay in 1997 while in office for taking concert tickets from subordinates and a $9,000 fine in 2003 for accepting cut-rate or free vacation lodging from state contractors.
“The evidence in this case indicates that Mr. Rowland learned nothing from his past transgressions,” federal prosecutors Michael Gustafson, Liam Brennan and Christopher Mattei wrote in a sentencing request to U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton.
“Mr. Rowland is an individual who simply refuses to ‘play it straight,’ because he delights in the illicit, dark side of politics where rules are for suckers, the public good is an afterthought, the game is all that matters and he is the indispensable player of that game,” they wrote. “The court’s sentence should ensure that the people of Connecticut are spared further harm.”
His lawyers responded in legal briefs that the prosecutors’ language was unnecessary, unwarranted and wrongly disparaged his character.
“Mr. Rowland’s many contributions to society in both public and private life are well documented,” Rowland’s lawyers’ wrote. “Throughout his life, John has been dedicated to public service, community engagement, and helping others.”
Rowland, 57, once a rising star in the Republican Party, was governor from 1995 to 2004, when he resigned amid the first criminal scandal. He also was elected to the U.S. House three times and had been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate or cabinet member.
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