Former Governor John Rowland Found Guilty on All 7 Counts

A jury unanimously found former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland guilty on all seven counts in a campaign finance conspiracy scheme in New Haven federal court Friday.

Rowland, 57, was convicted of conspiring with Brian Foley, the husband of 2012 congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley, to hide $35,000 in payments for work he did on her campaign.

He offered to do the same for Fifth-District Republican candidate Mark Greenberg, who took the stand as the prosecution's first witness. Greenberg said Rowland offered to serve as a consultant during his 2010 congressional run but asked to be paid through Greenberg's animal rescue group.

Prosecutors and Defense attorneys lay out their final cases for the jury

Rowland could serve up to 57 years in prison, but his lead attorney said Friday afternoon that the former governor plans to appeal the verdict.

"We think there were many, many interesting, very serious legal issues litigated in this case and we're very much looking forward to litigating them further," said lead defense attorney Reid Weingarten.

"Of course we're extremely disappointed with the verdict," said Weingarten. "We always believed that the prosecutors 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."

After the verdict was read, Rowland reached his hand back to a family member sitting behind him. Weingarten slumped in his chair and looked down, and another attorney put his head in his hands.

Rowland's family cried as the jury exited the courtroom. Jurors also seemed emotional and took deep breaths as they left.

Prosecutors did not visibly react.

"I heard it suggested cynically during the trial, both in the courtroom and outside the courtroom, that this case was simply politics as usual. This was far from that," said Asst. U.S. Attorney Mark Gustafson. "Our electoral system is founded on several vital principles, one of which is transparency."

Rowland’s defense team rested on Wednesday after calling just one witness.

The conviction comes 10 years after Rowland, a Republican who also served in the House of Representatives, stepped down as governor amid an earlier corruption investigation that sent him to federal prison for 10 months.

On Friday, he was convicted in New Haven federal court of one count of conspiracy, two counts of falsification of records, one count of false statements, one count of false statements, two counts of illegal campaign contributions.

Rowland's attorneys argued that the former governor volunteered on Wilson-Foley's campaign and was paid for the consulting work he did for Apple Health Care Inc., Foley's nursing home chain.

Deliberations, which began Thursday, lasted about seven hours between Thursday and Friday.

As a repeat offender, Rowland could face a much stiffer sentence. In the earlier case, he was convicted of taking illegal gifts while in office. 

"If you're in a situation where you ask yourself, 'Is this what we should do, or maybe not?' you're pretty close to getting the answer for yourselves," Gustafson said.

A pre-sentence report will be served Oct. 31. The defense counsel must respond by Nov. 14 and the final pre-sentence report will come Nov. 24. A sentencing memorandum will be filed by Dec. 1 and responses are due by Dec. 6.

Foley and Wilson-Foley each pleaded guilty to conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions on March 31. They have not yet been sentenced.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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