MARCH 14, 2012: Patrick Castagna, Paul Rogers, and Harry “Ray” Soucy visit the office of House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, to give him an illegal $5,000 cash contribution for his leadership PAC, and the meeting is captured by the FBI’s hidden camera.
After Cafero offers some profanity-laden support for business, Soucy attempts to leave an envelope containing the cash in Cafero’s office refrigerator. Cafero later disputed how the events took place after Soucy testified about the meeting at trial. Cafero later suggested that he did not realize the envelope contained cash and he called Soucy’s testimony a “blatant lie.” But the video shows Cafero stopping Soucy from leaving the envelope in his office refrigerator and then telling Soucy that the transaction would have to take place off public property. He then instructs staff member John Healey to punch out and take a walk with Soucy to have a “discussion.”
Cafero, who has been considering a run for governor in 2014, also has said he thought the money was related to Soucy’s role with the Correction Department, but there’s no discussion of issues related to the Correction Department in the video. There is discussion of their smoke shop business and Cafero suggests that he might be a “future customer,” making it highly unlikely he was referring to the Correction Department.
But the events that follow leave a lot of unanswered questions.
The cash was provided to Healey but was later returned and converted into five $1,000 checks in the names of other donors not related to the smoke shops, and then donated again. Cafero failed to question whether the checks were from illegal straw donors, despite knowing that a $5,000 cash payment from Soucy had been returned with instructions on how to properly donate money to PACs.
When the checks arrived a few weeks later, Cafero neither refused to accept them nor did he notify authorities. He has said that when the checks arrived, he never made the connection to the smoke shop owners. Instead of reporting the converted cash donation to authorities, the checks were accepted for his leadership PAC up until federal investigators arrived to confront Cafero about the transaction. He then publicly announced that the money was being returned.
Cafero also says that at the time of the visit from the smoke shop group, he was not aware of any pending RYO legislation. Language specific to RYO would be added to SB 357 a few weeks later on April 3, but the state’s lawsuit against the smoke shops was public knowledge. It’s worth noting here that Failure to Report A Bribe is a Class A Misdemeanor in Connecticut.
Do people often arrive at the LOB carrying $5,000 cash donations for elected officials, only to be instructed on how to legally donate funds to a PAC?
LC is Lawrence Cafero; PC is Patrick Castagna; HRS is Harry Ray Soucy; UF is unidentified female; JH is John Healey.
LC: Just do your business, God bless you, as long as your legal…
PC: Um, we are.
LC: As long as you’re employing people, leave people the fuck alone. That’s what’s wrong with this goddamn state.
LC: Guys it’s been a pleasure.
PC: Thank you very much sir.
LC: And I might be a future customer. (UI)
PC: Thank you very much for meeting with us today.
PR: Yeah, appreciate it. Thanks a lot, appreciate it.
HRS: Good bye, buddy. (UI)
HRS: So I don’t have to do a postage.
PR: I see. Here? Today?
HRS: Right now.
HRS: Right now.
HRS: (UI) walk across the street. We’ll do it right now.
LC: Yeah. Uh (UI) state party (UI).
LC: Well, I can’t do Jen.
LC: But could I do, uh, somebody else?
HRS: Whoever you want to walk with me (UI) be back.
PC: (simultaneous) I, I, I just, I just want one of your cards.
HRS: (laughs) (UI) is John around?
UF: Um, (UI)
PC: Wow. (UI)
HRS: Is there, you got anything good cold to drink in there? (UI)
HRS: Uh, water. If you (UI). I’ll find something later, it’s not, ya know.
PC: Take a card.
HRS: (laughs) But, geez, I gotta fill out the form.
LC: No, no, no, you know what I mean. Oh, this is-
LC: (laughs) Ray, wait a minute. Take a walk with Johnny, ok?
PC: This is great. This is great.
LC: Johnny Angel.
JH: Yes, sir.
HRS: Hey, John.
LC: You know Ray?
HRS: Yeah. Let’s take a walk.
LC: Just do me a favor. I want you to punch out
JH: I knew this day was coming.
LC: Yuh. I want you to punch out.
HRS: Go over to the Officer’s Club.
LC: And I want you to just take a walk with Ray.
LC: Have a little discussion, and I’ll see you later.
PC: Thank you. It was nice seeing ya.
LC: Take care. It was a pleasure. Nice seeing you.
PR: Alright, take care. (UI) Paul.
JH: Hi. John Healy. Nice to meet you Paul.
PC: Pat Castagna. John.
JH: John Healy, nice to meet ya.
PC: Nice meeting ya. Ah…
Provided as evidence by federal prosecutors in the trial of Robert Braddock Jr.