Former Connecticut governor John Rowland was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his role in a criminal campaign conspiracy.
Rowland, 57, was convicted by a jury in September for trying to hide payments he received for the failed 2012 congressional campaign of Republican candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley.
Prosecutors said the payments were made through a phony contract with a company owned by Wilson-Foley's husband. They also said Rowland tried to make a similar deal in 2010 with congressional candidate Mark Greenberg.
On Wednesday, Rowland, of Middlebury, was found guilty on seven counts, including falsification of records in a federal investigation, conspiracy to defraud, making false statements and illegal campaign violations. Following his sentence, Rowland will be on probation for three months and have to pay a fine of $35,000.
Rowland, who was governor from 1995 to 2004, will be going to federal prison in Otisville, NY. He was allowed to voluntary surrender and needs to report by noon on June 16.
Wednesday's sentencing comes 10 years to the day after he was sentenced for accepting illegal gifts while in office. He spent a year and a day in prison. Rowland arrived at federal court in New Haven just before 9 a.m. on Wednesday.
In court, Rowland's attorney said this is the "most aggressive indictment he has ever seen," while federal prosecutors called what Rowland did "a full blown conspiracy."
"We have heard a lot of rhetoric," the prosecutor said. "They think offense is trivial, we do not."
Federal prosecutors said Rowland is "unwilling to accept responsibility for being engaged in a crime" and that "speaks to his character."
Friends told Judge Janet Arterton that Rowland was a "man of faith" and "kept family first."
The pastor of New Life Church in Wallingford Will Marotti was one of the people that testified on the former governor's behalf. He said that Rowland is not the bad deceptive person he's portrayed to be.
“He's taking it as John Rowland always does with composure and an optimistic outlook," said Marotti, who shared a political radio show on WTIC.
His wife Patty Rowland said she met him when she was 17 years old and they "are not perfect."
"John has worked hard serving the community," Patty Rowland said. "We have now lost our savings."
Rowland's daughter told the judge that her father "is a hard worker" and "always willing to help others." She added that he is her "back bone" and "sounding board."
Federal prosecutors are waiting to comment until Wilson-Foley is sentenced, but released a statement on Wednesday.
"It is disheartening that an individual who once held two of our country's highest elected offices, and who also served time in prison for a previous federal conviction, chose to deceive voters. Hopefully, today's sentence will deter both this defendant from future criminal behavior and all who may consider ignoring campaign financing laws,” First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Gustafson said.
John Rowland decided not to speak on his behalf during the sentencing.
When Rowland exited the courtroom, he did not speak to the media. However, his wife called the people who testified on her husband's behalf “wonderful friends” who “spoke the truth."
If Rowland had plead guilty, he would have served 18 months in prison. Now he'll serve a year longer.
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