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Rowland Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison For Illegal Campaign Activities

Former Gov. John Rowland is going back to prison, this time for 30 months.
Former Gov. John Rowland is going back to prison, this time for 30 months. Photo Credit: File

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland will serve another 30 months in federal prison for illegal activities in two Congressional campaigns.

Rowland, 57, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven federal court. He will also serve three years of supervised release for attempting to conceal the extent of his involvement in two federal election campaigns. He also was ordered to pay a $35,000 fine.

A Middlebury resident, Rowland was governor from 1995 to 2004, and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1985 to 1991.

“It is disheartening that an individual who once held two of our country’s highest elected offices, and who also served time in prison for a previous federal conviction, chose to deceive voters and violate laws that were established to ensure fair and open elections,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Gustafson.

Rowland also served a year in federal prison after pleading guilty Dec. 23, 2004, to depriving the public of honest service. He was in the Federal Correctional Institution in Loretto, Pa., from April 1, 2005, to Feb. 10, 2006.

In the new case, according to the evidence introduced during his trial, in October 2009, Rowland devised a scheme to work for the campaign of a candidate seeking election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2009-10 and to conceal from the Federal Election Commission and the public that he would be paid to perform that work.

To make the illegal arrangement appear legitimate, he drafted a sham consulting contract pursuant to which he would purportedly perform work for a separate corporate entity owned by the candidate.

During the 2011-12 election cycle, another candidate, Lisa Wilson-Foley, was seeking election to the House from the Fifth District. Wilson-Foley’s husband, Brian Foley, owns a Connecticut nursing home company and a real estate company. 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 to Wilson-Foley’s campaign.

To retain Rowland's services for the campaign while reducing the risk that his paid campaign role would be disclosed to the public, Rowland, Wilson-Foley and Foley agreed that the former governor would be paid by Foley to work on the campaign.

Rowland, Foley and others then created and executed a fictitious contract outlining an agreement purportedly for consulting services between Rowland and the law offices of an attorney who worked for Foley’s nursing home company. Foley made regular payments to Rowland for his campaign work and routed those payments from his real estate company through the law offices of the attorney. Rowland provided nominal services to Foley’s nursing home company to create a “cover.”

From September 2011 to April 2012, he was paid $35,000 for campaign services. The payments originated with Foley and constituted campaign contributions, but were not reported to the FEC in violation of federal campaign finance laws.

On Sept. 19, 2014, Rowland was found guilty of 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.

On March 31, 2014, Foley and Wilson-Foley each pleaded guilty to conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions.  On Jan. 9, 2015, Foley, who received credit for cooperating with the investigation, was sentenced to three months in community confinement. Wilson-Foley awaits sentencing.

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