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Ex-Conn. Gov. Convicted Again, Could Face Up to 57 Years in Prison

By William Peacock, Esq. on September 22, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The year was 2004. Paul Giamatti shined in "Sideways," a dramedy that would win the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Usher's "Yeah!," featuring rapper Ludacris and producer Lil Jon was tearing up the Billboard charts. And Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland was headed to prison after pleading guilty to accepting inappropriate gifts from individuals with contracts with the state.

Ten years later, I finally got around to watching "Sideways." (Dark, depressing, and hilarious.) And the former governor? He's headed back to prison after being convicted of another corrupt political deal -- a campaign finance violation for a losing congressional race. And while last time, Gov. Rowland only served 10 months, this time he faces up to 57 years, reports The New York Times.

A Concealed Bargain

As a long-time congressman and former governor, Rowland had a lot of valuable experience in running and winning campaigns. Unfortunately, his name is poison -- anyone foolish enough to hire him would find himself or herself immediately mocked in the press by the opponent.

Lisa Wilson-Foley, a Republican congressional candidate in 2012, was aware of this problem, but was undeterred, according to prosecutors. Along with her husband Brian Foley, she agreed to hire Rowland as a campaign consultant -- but instead of tying him officially to the campaign, he would be "officially" employed by her husband's health care company.

Prosecutors charged Rowland with seven counts, six of which led to convictions, including obstruction of justice, falsifying documents, and violating campaign finance laws. The Foleys pleaded guilty to related charges, reports the Times, and Brian Foley was the star witness in Rowland's trial.

Politics as Usual

Rowland's attorney, Reid H. Weingarten, argued that the charges were politically motivated. He also argued that prosecutors made far too much of "an all-too-political dust-up," reports the Times. "We're very much looking forward to litigating this case," Weingarten was quoted as saying, implying that an appeal is in the works.

However, prosecutors maintained that this was about honesty in elections, reports Reuters.

"Clearly, this is a sad day, but the jury made the right decision and sent a strong message to politicians who believe they're above the law," said Michael Gustafson, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for Connecticut. "The public wants and deserves transparency from its elected officials."

According to Reuters, Rowland's sentencing is scheduled for December 12.

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