Former Gov. Rowland found guilty of violating campaign laws - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Former Gov. Rowland found guilty of violating campaign laws

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(Christine Cornell photo) (Christine Cornell photo)
John Rowland made no comment after leaving Federal Court following his conviction on campaign finance fraud charges. (WFSB photo) John Rowland made no comment after leaving Federal Court following his conviction on campaign finance fraud charges. (WFSB photo)
(Christine Cornell photo) (Christine Cornell photo)

Former Gov. John Rowland was found guilty on all seven counts of federal conspiracy charges after just one day of deliberations.

Rowland was convicted of conspiring to hide $35,000 in payments for work he did on the 2012 congressional campaign for Lisa Wilson-Foley. The concern was that with Rowland's past corruption conviction, which had him serve prison time, his involvement might hurt Wilson-Foley's campaign.

The defense argued that he volunteered on the campaign, but was paid for consulting work he did for the nursing home of Wilson-Foley's husband, Brian Foley.

Foley testified, however, that he paid Rowland for campaign work.

The verdict came down on Friday afternoon for a man who was once one of the most popular governors in Connecticut history.

Rowland resigned as governor a decade ago after illegally receiving gifts while serving in office. Rowland went to prison for that crime for 10 months.

Rowland entered the courtroom at New Haven Federal Court around 2:30 p.m. A short time later, the judge brought in the jury.

As Rowland showed no emotion and stared at the jury, they found him guilty on all seven federal conspiracy charges including faced including two counts of falsification of records, one count of conspiracy, two counts of causing false statements and two counts of causing illegal campaign contributions.

After the verdict was read, the judge accepted it and Rowland hugged a family member behind him, who was crying. Rowland stared at the family and let out a deep breath as the jury was discharged.

As court was recessed, Rowland talked to his family and hugged his wife, Patty, inside the courtroom. They left the courtroom together and did not say anything to the media waiting for them outside.

Many experts thought that the verdict was not coming down until next week. The sentencing for Rowland will be on Dec. 12.

Rowland opted not to take the stand and the defense rested Wednesday. Closing arguments wrapped up Thursday.

The defense told jurors in closing arguments that Rowland tried to hide from voters what they have a right to know and that he broke federal election laws by covering up his involvement with political campaigns.

"Voters have to see is what they get in this case the defendant and others did not want that to happen," said Mike Gufstafson, who is the First Assistant U.S. Attorney.

The government said the verdict sends a clear and simple message to candidates and people who work for campaigns.

"Don't try to be cute by a half--put your name on it," Gufstafson said. "If you are in a situation where you have to ask if this is what we should do or not do. Maybe you're pretty close to getting their answer yourself."

Rowland's attorney Reid Weingarten called only one witness to testify and is promising an appeal.

"Of course we are extremely disappointed with the verdict," Weingarten said. "It's believed the prosecutors made a big mountain of a small mole hill, all triggered by an all too mundane political dust-up."

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