Prosecutor speaks out ahead of Rowland's release from prison - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Prosecutor speaks out ahead of Rowland's release from prison

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Former Gov. John Rowland (WFSB file photo) Former Gov. John Rowland (WFSB file photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

It's a holiday weekend, but it's also a weekend of freedom for former Governor John Rowland.

He’s expected to be released from federal custody on Sunday.

This was his second time in prison.

In 2014, Rowland went to trial for campaign fraud and obstructing justice.

He was convicted, then spent nearly two years appealing, but finally reported to prison in the fall of 2016.

"The jury really felt the government had proven its case, has proven that Mr. Rowland had committed some serious crimes,” said Chris Mattei, who is the prosecutor who led the case against Rowland.

The case centered around Lisa Wilson Foley, who was running for Congress.

Rowland claimed he was a campaign volunteer and was being paid as a business consultant for her husband Brian Foley.

The jury didn't buy it and agreed with prosecutors that the contract with Foley was a cover-up to hide Rowland's position as a paid campaign staffer.

"Any time someone of influence and power is trying to inject secret money into our campaigns, it has the effect of drowning out the voice of average voters,” Mattei said.

Rowland's credibility was damaged and he resigned as governor and was convicted in 2004 for taking about $100,000 from a businessman looking for tax breaks or state contracts. He served 7 months.

Mattei, who is now running for attorney general, said this case was more than just a way around campaign laws. It was an attempt to hide transparency, which creates distrust.

"The legacy of corruption in Connecticut is that over decades as people saw it again and again and again. They have come to resent state government and that it can't be an instrument for good in their lives and the only way to change it is to elect a candidate who recognizes it as a problem and are dedicated to restoring that trust,” Mattei said.

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