John Rowland conspiracy trial began Wednesday - WFSB 3 Connecticut

John Rowland conspiracy trial began Wednesday

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Former Gov. John Rowland walking into federal court in New Haven on Wednesday. (WFSB photo) Former Gov. John Rowland walking into federal court in New Haven on Wednesday. (WFSB photo)

Former Gov. John Rowland was back in federal court in New Haven on Wednesday for the first day of his conspiracy trial.

Rowland spent 10 months in federal prison on corruption charges and now he's facing new criminal charges in what prosecutors said was a political scheme to get paid and conceal those payments.

Rowland was described on Wednesday by his lawyer Reid Weingarten as "controversial," "a lightning rod" and "larger than life."

But he also said Rowland did nothing illegal. However, federal prosecutors said Rowland created phony contracts to defraud voters.

Rowland came to federal court on Wednesday and was firmly holding the hand of his wife, Patty, along with a team of attorneys.

Rowland is defending himself once again and this time is facing seven counts of indictment on conspiracy charges.

The federal government claimed Rowland created secret agreements with two congressional candidates. One was Mark Greenberg and the other Lisa Wilson-Foley. The plan was to have Rowland help them get elected.

During the trial on Wednesday, Greenberg was asked what Rowland was being paid for he said to be "involved with the strategy of the campaign," but also felt Rowland was a risk because of his criminal past.

Greenberg said Rowland kept pushing, and in an email sent by Rowland before the 2010 election, Rowland said "I am not as unpopular as your campaign manager would lead you to believe. I can get you elected, if you are interested."

Rowland's attorney is trying to discredit Greenberg saying there was nothing in the proposed agreement that said where the money would come from.

Greenberg decided not to hire Rowland, however the federal government said another congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley did.

But instead of getting paid by the campaigns, they said Rowland devised a scheme to get paid by a private company. In the case of Wilson-Foley, they said her husband Brian Foley paid Rowland $35,000 and by doing this - they violated campaign laws.

The federal government said the Foley's, like Greenberg, valued Rowland's political advice but were worried his reputation would hurt their campaigns. They said the Foley's conspired to hide the fact that he was working for their campaign.

In opening statements on Wednesday, federal prosecutors showed jurors several emails, which they said prove how Rowland tried to cover up this scheme.

Greenberg is expected to be the first witness. The Foleys are also expected to testify along with their campaign staff.

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