A Connecticut state senator and a former chairperson of the Bridgeport Board of Education surrendered to authorities Tuesday after being indicted on federal charges, according to federal prosecutors.
Bridgeport Democratic Sen. Dennis Bradley, 38, and former school board Chairperson Jessica Martinez, 39, are accused of defrauding Connecticut’s program for publicly funding political campaigns during Bradley’s 2018 run for State Senate.
Bradley was first elected in 2018 to represent the 23rd state Senate district, which includes Bridgeport. A deputy majority leader, he is co-chairman of the General Assembly’s Public Safety and Security Committee, which oversees issues ranging from police and fire training and emergency preparedness to state building codes and legalized gambling.
On Tuesday afternoon, CT Senate Democrats released a statement saying Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney removed Bradley as Senate Chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee and named Senator Cathy Osten of the 19th Senate District as acting Chair of the committee, pending disposition of the charges.
A news release also says Looney removed Bradley from his remaining committee assignments and he will no longer serve as Senate Vice Chair of the Committee on Children or as a member of the Banking, General Law, Internship, and Judiciary committees. Looney also rescinded Bradley’s appointment as Deputy Majority Leader.
“Based on the current available information regarding Senator Bradley, I have taken a first step to protect the integrity of the State Senate,” Looney said in a statement.
A statement from the govenor's office said Gov. Ned Lamont "is aware of the serious allegations against Senator Bradley, and is supportive of the actions taken by Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney.”
According to the indictment, Bradley, Martinez and others are accused of violating Citizens’ Election Program rules by holding a March 15, 2018, campaign event at Dolphin’s Cove restaurant in Bridgeport and disguising the event as a Thank You Party for friends and clients of Bradley’s law firm.
The Citizens’ Election Program limits candidates to spending $2,000 in personal funds on the campaign and Bradley is accused of spending $5,597.31 for the campaign event and using personal funds for other campaign expenditures related to the event, including printed invitations and a band.
Bradley’s and Martinez’s alleged co-conspirators are also accused of altering and falsifying contribution cards so that none were dated the night of the event.
Bradley and Martinez applied for a grant to fund the Democratic primary campaign and obtained $84,140 in public funds, according to the indictment report.
According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice, SEEC began investigating a citizen complaint about Bradley’s campaign, including the campaign event at Dolphin’s Cove and Bradley denied all the allegations as “frivolous and manipulative” and Martinez is accused of making false statements under oath to SEEC.
Bradley is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five counts of wire fraud. Martinez is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud, one count of making a false statement to the FBI, and one count of making a false declaration before the grand jury.
The Senate was expected to consider a major gambling and sports betting bill on Tuesday. Typically, the committee co-chairman would lead that debate.
According to Bradley’s legislative bio, he is an attorney at Bradley, Denkovich & Karayiannis Law Group, a civil litigation and personal injury law firm. He also served as chairman on the Bridgeport Board of Education from 2015 to 2019.
Martinez still serves on the Bridgeport school board after being removed as chairperson last year, the Connecticut Post reported.
Bradley and Martinez appeared today in New Haven, entered pleas of not guilty.
Bradley was released on a $300,000 bond and Martinez was released on a $250,000 bond.