NEW HAVEN — The defense in the campaign corruption trial of Robert Braddock Jr. rested its case Monday in federal court without calling a witness or asking Braddock to take the stand himself.
Braddock, the finance director of former House Speaker Chris Donovan’s unsuccessful congressional campaign, is charged with conspiring to hide the source of $27,500 in campaign donations for tobacco store owners looking to defeat legislation detrimental to their business interests at the state Capitol.
The case is expected to be decided by the jury Tuesday after both sides present closing arguments. On Monday, Judge Janet Bond Arterton denied a motion for acquittal by Braddock’s defense attorney Frank Riccio II, who said the government had not presented sufficient evidence for a jury to reasonably find him guilty. Arterton disagreed.
“It is a triable case, as we say,” she said.
Following Monday’s court proceedings, Riccio said he could not comment as to why the defense did not present evidence.
Since the trial began last week, Riccio has sought to portray his client as an outsider in Donovan’s campaign who was not apprised of a conspiracy to kill legislation on behalf of roll-your-own cigarette shop owners.
During the trial, Braddock, a campaign fundraising contractor from out of state, has been overshadowed often by secretly recorded conversations presented as evidence by the government.
In some of the evidence collected by the FBI, public officials like Donovan, House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, and House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz were recorded interacting with Harry “Ray” Soucy, an often-vulgar former correction officer and union official.
Soucy already has pleaded guilty to helping tobacco shop owners organize an effort to bribe lawmakers to defeat legislation last year. After being confronted by the FBI, Soucy agreed to cooperate with the government by placing calls at its behest and often wearing a wire.
Although Braddock appears in few of the conversations played for the jury over the course of the trail, U.S. Attorney Chris Mattei told the judge Monday the government has presented enough evidence that a jury can conclude that Braddock was a member of the conspiracy.
Mattei quickly recapped the government’s case, touching on conversations during which Braddock was present. Mattei also reminded the judge of a recorded phone conversation in which Soucy makes reference to a plan to give money to “drunks” and “drug addicts” so that they could act as conduit donors to Donovan’s campaign.
“Mr. Braddock’s reactions [in response to Soucy] ranged from laughing to the statement, ‘Hey it works,’” Mattei said.
He told the judge that the government had presented a series of “facts from which the jury can infer that Mr. Braddock was fully aware that the roll your own smoke shop owners did not want their names on any of the donations.”