NOV. 16, 2011: During a pre-meeting discussion, Harry “Ray” Soucy tells Patrick Castagna and George Tirado that he already has spoken with Robert Braddock, Chris Donovan, and Campaign Manager Josh Nassi, and that they know the plan.
Soucy says Braddock informed him that there are always “men in black” following Donovan, by which he meant federal authorities, and he urges caution in bringing up the RYO legislation or the money during breakfast.
Soucy tells Tirado, a Waterbury police officer, that the conduit contribution money is similar to getting caught with an “ounce” and offering an officer $200 to look the other way.
Donovan and Braddock attend the meeting with with Castagna, Tirado, and Soucy, but voices are difficult to discern with the background noise on this particular recording. Soucy testified that he gave a $2,500 check to Braddock, Exhibit 101a, before Donovan arrived at the table. After the 1:19 mark in the recording (above), Castagna starts describing for Donovan their RYO machines in detail as well as the various regulations that apply to manufacturers and the difficulties they are having since the state filed its lawsuit.
They make an effort to differentiate their business from the major manufacturers, and they highlight the 200 jobs they’ve created in Connecticut. Donovan is heard asking questions and Castagna discusses the state’s lawsuit. Shortly after the 1:45 mark Castagna tells Donovan that if the state taxes loose tobacco as manufactured tobacco, the shops will not survive — not just RYO, but any shop that sells loose tobacco. Castagna also points out that the shops are paying excise taxes to the state on loose tobacco imported from other states, and he also points out that CT’s shade tobacco is the best cigar wrapper in the industry.
What is clear after this meeting is that Donovan understands the plight of the smoke shops.
Other key segments of the recording are isolated below:
TRANSCRIPT GX 3 Clip 1:
PC: Good morning.
HRS: Good morning.
PC: How are you?
HRS: Good. I knew that motherfucker wouldn’t have coffee here, so . . .
PC: I was just – just saying to, ah,
PC: to George, th-this is a new arena for me.
PC: Ray, I, you know, I don’t know, I’ve never met a politician in my entire life.
HRS: I play this game all the time. That’s what I do. So . . .
PC: You know, you just . . .
HRS: I’ll be, I’m [U/I] unless you want me to run it.
PC: I’m just gonna explain the tobacco business, I mean, that’s, I guess..
HRS: [U/I] This is way you run this today. Ok . . . ah, there’s how many business owners that you represent here in Connecticut?
PC: Um, Tracy’s and Bogey’s really.
GT: Okay, so you represent Tracy’s and Bogey’s.
PC: And yourself, you’re gonna . . .
GT: And, in, in, in a sense I mean, your loss, it effects all of us.
PC: Oh, it does.
PC: Um, well they’re opening other shops. I mean there’s . . .
PC: a shop in North Haven that’s open – that’s open already. Um . . .
HRS: How many?
PC: I don’t know.
GT: Probably around ten shops.
HRS: About ten, alright.
GT: It’s fifty (UI), on the brink.
HRS: Yeah, alright.
HRS: You got, you got 50 business owners that have small businesses in Connecticut.
HRS: They pay their taxes.
PC: Potential (UI).
HRS: Ten. The – the potential of another 50 to come. They pay their taxes, rent, some of them maybe own the properties. And pay property taxes you all pay the state taxes on new equipment.
HRS: Right. You’re saving the consumers money, which gives them money for other things, new mortgage [U/I]
PC: Oh, yeah, no, that’s . . . (UI)
HRS: So, so whatever . . .
PC: That’s common sense.
HRS: And the most important thing you’ve done and are continuing to do is you’re creating jobs. He is big on jobs…
GT: (UI) last night.
HRS: Alright, he’s, he’s big on jobs. Right? You’re creating jobs, alright. Alright, what we do is you sell tobacco and the tubes of the cigarettes and rent the machine.
HRS: Alright, that’s what you guys do. The Attorney General has a different opinion – says that you’re a manufacturer.
HRS: Some states, very few of them, if I’m correct have agreed that you are a manufacturer.
HRS: The majority of them do not agree with that.
PC: Well it’s not that they don’t agree, they just don’t know what to do. I mean . . .
HRS: But, but . . .
PC: you . . .
HRS: They don’t, they don’t agree. You (UI) what to do.
HRS: Right? You don’t give them an opening, you give them …
GT: They don’t agree because . . .
HRS: They don’t know. But that don’t matter.
GT: They don’t know, but I’m saying, they don’t know, they don’t agree because they’re not getting their full tax.
GT: You know what I mean?
GT: It’s all about tax money.
HRS: It’s all about the tax money, but you’re creating, you’re paying . . .
HRS: your taxes, you’re creating jobs.
HRS: You’re, you’re saving the consumers money on a product that’s not gonna go away Chris.
HRS: People are gonna continue to smoke.
HRS: I (UI) I myself. Every time he raise taxes on cigarettes, I said I was gonna quit. Guess what?
GT: Yeah [U/I]
HRS: A heart attack later I still smoke.
HRS: So, whether or not he believes in smoking, the main factor is that you create jobs and will continue to create jobs.
HRS: As long as everything stays the way it is.
HRS: And that’s it.
GT: Create jobs, pay taxes, I mean, and until we get into . . .
HRS: You don’t mention . . .
HRS: You don’t mention any bills coming up, you don’t mention . . .
GT: No, no, but what I’m saying, how much we make but the amount of taxes we [UI] pay [UI] per month. We paying, I mean, total, I don’t even know, (UI) how much, I mean . . .
PC: I paid over 50,000, well Tracey’s paid over $50,000 in excise taxes.
GT: In a year.
PC: In a year.
HRS: One shop?
GT: [U/I] question, you know what I mean?
PC: No, it’s every month. The excise tax . . .
PC: . . . you have to pay them [U/I]
HRS: For one shop?
PC: One shop.
HRS: Fifty grand a year?
GT: That’s a lot of money.
HRS: Times ten.
PC: It’s a half a million.
HRS: It’s a half a million dollars (UI).
GT: It is?
PC: Right. And that’s what it really comes down to.
GT: How many employees do you have?
PC: Ah, Tracy’s got six at the first shop and she’s got . . .
PC: four . . .
GT: Two hundred . . .
HRS: Two hundred [U/I]
PC: She’s got four in Orange.
HRS: Created two hundred jobs.
GT: I know [U/I/]
HRS: With, with the potential to . . .
GT: [U/I] 200 a month.
HRS: a minimum.
HRS: You got 50 more stores, that’s a thousand jobs [U/I]
HRS: (UI) right now.
GT: And that, I mean that, all legit, I mean, (UI) it’s still (UI) I know he’s in the same position, we’re ready to open ten stores tomorrow.
GT: In different places, I mean . . .
GT: It’s just a matter of . . .
PC: Yeah. I don’t know what they’re gonna, you know, what I said, the attorney . . .
HRS: He, he knows – he knows the whole deal already.
PC: He does?
HRS: He knows. He knows the deal.
PC: (UI) [both speak at once]
PC: Do they know, do they know from like our perspective?
HRS: Yeah. Yes. Ah, I had a long talk with the finance director . . .
HRS: who I got to give to [pause] on the side.
HRS: Alright. Ah , he understands the situation. The reason you don’t bring up any bills or anything is they have as he calls them the men in black running around.
HRS: All the time….
HRS: Alright, you never know where they’re gonna be.
HRS: And if you – we say listen we don’t want you to do this bill, that’s pro (UI) You know. (UI) No.
HRS: No, no, no, no. You know? That’s the same as me given him twenty – a hundred dollar bill saying let me go on the fucking two ounces you got me with.
PC: Right. So, like I had mentioned to Phil, I mean, he’s paid a million, like I told ya, he’s paid a million eight . . .
PC: in attorney’s fees, and it’s only gonna grow.
PC: You know, I’m not, I should, I shouldn’t, stay away from that.
HRS: Stay away from that.
HRS: Stay away from it all.
PC: Basically tell him about the business, the growth, the jobs, or the taxes that we pay.
PC: I mean, I’m, you’re paying the excise tax . . .
PC: when you buy the tobacco, so it’s a little different story . . .
HRS: Right. And you’re paying tax, your sales tax.
GT: The sales tax on it, right. That’s (UI)
HRS: [simultaneous] You’re paying on, you’re paying, you pay taxes on the equipment.
PC: Yeah. We’ll pay the property taxes.
PC: We pay the, ah . . .
HRS: You pay your inventory tax.
PC: inventory tax, yep, you know, yep.
GT: (UI) product, product (UI)
HRS: I, like I said if . . .
HRS: (UI) question is . . .
HRS: If he asks you a question fine, don’t volunteer anything else.
HRS: The guy already knows there’s more juice coming…
HRS: if everybody comes out good….
HRS: Alright? Tell them that there could be a possibility, things work out nice (UI) nice, we might set up a third party PAC run that’s independent of the candidate.
HRS: And that’s big money…
HRS: to spend – ah, when you set up a PAC like that, you allow it to say Chris Donovan is God.
HRS: You can’t say nothing bad about anybody else.
HRS: You only say good stuff about him.
PC: Yeah, and I don’t know about . . .
PC: You’re talking Chinese buddy. [laughs] I know about the smoke shop business.
HRS: Listen, politics is . . .
HRS: Politics is all about the benjamins.
PC: It is.
HRS: That’s what it’s about.
PC: Ok, well you handle all those benjamins. I rather handle the smoke shop.
PC: We got, you know, we got big plans.
HRS: Um, and I know Chris very well.
HRS: Alright, I know him very well.
PC: Ok. You know these machines are expensive. You know?
TRANSCRIPT GX 3 Clip 3
HRS: Yeah, we have plenty of time. [U/I] who’s got the steam? The checks?
PC: Oh [U/I]
GT: [U/I] from yesterday?
HRS: Yeah. He’s supposed to have checks this morning.
GT: From who?
HRS: I don’t know. He told me [U/I] but what did you give him last night?
GT: Twenty-five hundred.
HRS: There’s supposed to be three more checks this morning.
GT: From who?
HRS: I have no idea.
GT: You talked to Paulie.
GT: Maybe that’s why they [U/I]
PC: You gotta talk to Paulie I guess.
[GT steps away to call PAUL PR].
PC: I got, I got cigarettes if you run out.
HRS: He’s not answering?
GT: No, I don’t [U/I]
PC: Here, they’re yours.
GT: [U/I] three more checks [U/I]
HRS: He said there was ten grand [U/I].
TRANSCRIPT GX 3 Clip 4
HRS: When I set this up, you know, we originally talked about twenty, thirty grand. And I called and I said ten grand just to start with and then everybody – if everybody is happy, then we do more.
PC: Well, I, I [U/I] I’m unclear about, you know what I mean, I don’t know this game, so that’s why I left it up to George . . .
PC: And I called George last night.
PC: And he says to me, don’t worry about it. He says, I took care of it. I made a donation last night.
HRS: Right. [U/I]
PC: So, then . . .
GT: [In background talking to PR on the telephone] [U/I] He gave, he gave him twenty five [U/I]
PC: I – when I got up this morning . . .
GT: [In background talking to PR on the telephone] Yeah.
PC: out of the car Ray, I had said the same thing, so I’m kind of neutral, and now what I’m gonna do, I’m, you know?
PC: I don’t want to look like I’m stupid, but . . .
GT: [In background talking to PR on the telephone] I have the check. I have the check. I got the check, yep. [U/I] right, I got the check. Right. [U/I] . . .
PC: The guy from the other smoke shop called me, and I never called him back until [U/I]. He said don’t worry about it I’ll take care of it. Nobody’s taking care of it. That’s what, ah, you know. Okay? Somebody . . .
HRS: And my name – and my name is on this.
PC: When they say they’re taking care of it, they’re taking care of it. I guess that’s, you know . . .
GT: You got a pen?
HRS: Yep. [U/I]
GT: There should be, ah, I don’t know.
HRS: You got anymore of those envelopes?
GT: I don’t, no.
PC: Are they here?
HRS: Ah, no they’re not here yet.
HRS: That’s what I said.
PC: Fewww, I gotta eat. I got sugar diabetes.
PC: My sugar drops. Ah, at least a piece of bread or a toast or something.
GT: Ah . . .
PC: I got my pills? Yeah. Thank God. I’m [U/I] I had a heart attack in 2005.
PC: You got nitros too? Are you serious?
GT: You got those envelopes?
HRS: No, I’ll get them from Rob…
GT: It’s Chris Donovan, right?
HRS: Yeah Donovan for – yeah, Donovan for Congress that works.
GT: [speaking in background] [U/I]
PC: Do you take the nitros?
HRS: No. Well, you’re only supposed to take them if you feel a heart attack coming.
HRS: That’s it.
GT: I’ll talk to ya. I left the keys in the, ah . . .
Provided as evidence by federal prosecutors in the trial of Robert Braddock Jr.