It took about 10 minutes for Chris Donovan’s former finance director to plead “not guilty” to the corruption charges which threw a U.S Congressional race into turmoil.
A grand jury Wednesday indicted the finance director, Robert Braddock Jr., 33, on three counts of conspiring to hide the source of nearly $30,000 in campaign donations to his former boss’ campaign on behalf of a group of smoke shop owners looking to defeat legislation. Braddock worked for Donovan’s campaign for Connecticut’s 5th U.S. Congressional District seat.
Braddock, who is out on a $100,000 bond, seemed relaxed prior to his arraignment Thursday in U.S. District Court in New Haven. He was seen laughing with his attorney Frank Riccio II shortly.
Asked in the hallway how he was doing, Braddock reluctantly smiled, threw up his hands and said, “as good as I can be.”
U.S. Attorney Chris Mattei offered little insight during the brief court appearance, reading the three counts and noting the 12 year prison term Braddock could serve if he’s found guilty on all three counts.
Outside the courthouse Riccio told the media that beside the grand jury indictment he doesn’t know what evidence the government has against his client.
“I can’t comment on the strength or the weakness of the evidence because to be honest we’re just unaware of what the evidence actually is other than what’s contained in the indictment,” Riccio said
Riccio will likely get his first look at all the evidence in 14 days according to customary federal procedure.
Pressed on whether he thinks the government will charge others in the case, Riccio said “People can always be added to this indictment. There’s no question about it.”
U.S. District Judge Magistrate Joan Margolis scheduled jury selection for Sept. 5—which could be problematic for Donovan if he wins a Aug. 14 Democratic Party primary.
Sept. 5 is the beginning to the general election campaign for the open 5th District seat. If the trial goes for weeks it falls during the run up to the November election.