Screen grab from union video
Harry ‘Ray’ Soucy (Screen grab from union video)

A lawyer for Harry “Ray” Soucy asked a judge last week to ignore sentencing guidelines and the crass portrait of his client that emerged during the course of a federal campaign corruption case against Soucy and his co-conspirators.

Soucy, a former correction officer, will be one of the last defendants to be sentenced in the campaign-fundraising conspiracy that sunk the 2012 congressional campaign of former state House Speaker Chris Donovan. Although he appeared in some of the evidence gathered by federal authorities, Donovan has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

However, Soucy, a politically connected union organizer, is considered the architect of the conspiracy to hide the source of $27,500 in donations to Donovan’s campaign from tobacco store owners seeking to buy influence and kill legislation harmful to their business.

It was through Soucy and his connections at the state Capitol that several senior lawmakers came to be involved with the federal corruption case. In addition to Donovan, House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero and current House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz were featured interacting with Soucy in evidence collected by federal authorities in relation to the case. Neither has been charged with a crime.

Soucy, who will be sentenced next week, has pleaded guilty to corruption charges and faces a maximum of 25 years in prison. However, federal sentencing guidelines put his likely sentence between 24 and 30 months. In a pre-sentencing memo filed last week, Soucy’s lawyer asked Judge Janet Bond Arterton to disregard those guidelines in favor of a lighter sentence.

Five men, including tobacco shop investors and campaign staffers, already have been handed prison sentences for their roles in the scheme. Of those involved, only Robert Braddock, Donovan’s former finance director, fought the charges. He was unsuccessful and a jury found him guilty.

However, it was during Braddock’s trial, that a less-than-wholesome picture of Soucy emerged. Federal prosecutors played for the jury a series of secretly recorded phone calls and conversations. And although Soucy became a cooperating witness for the government and was at times wearing a wire himself, the jury was often warned about the offensive nature of Soucy’s recorded statements.

Braddock’s lawyer, Frank Riccio II, sought to distance his client from the ex-correction worker, whom he described for the jury as someone who “makes your skin crawl.”

Riccio said in May that “Mr. Soucy is a creep who said he owned people. Everything seen through the lens of Raymond Soucy is diabolical.”

In his sentencing memo, Soucy’s lawyer, Steven Rasile, called that an unfair characterization of his client. In the 39-page document, Rasile presents another view of the brash former political insider. Rasile paints Soucy as a son, devoted to his elderly mother, and a friend, willing to help the smoke shop owners despite not having an initial financial stake in the conspiracy.

“The portrait of Harry Raymond Soucy that has been painted thus far is nothing short of false and misleading, attacking his credibility for one bad decision, despite a life-long commitment to others,” he wrote.

Despite the recorded evidence, Rasile asked the judge to focus on Soucy’s “humanity and compassion” while considering his sentence:

When one has sat through hours upon hours of evidence review, focusing on Harry Raymond Soucy, and listened to his gruff and brusque voice, his crass and insensitive manner, it is hard to understand how ‘humanity and compassion’ should be factored into his sentencing. However, delving into the real Harry Raymond Soucy, the one that no one has yet to focus on, illustrates how and why these two simple words, compassion and humanity, are not only necessary for his sentencing, but these two words define Mr. Soucy’s lifelong body of work.

Rasile asks Arterton to depart from guidelines in recommending prison time in part because Soucy is the primary caretaker of his 80-year-old mother, whom he lives with, and because a prison sentence would exacerbate his own health problems.

According the memo, Soucy continues to suffer from a back injury sustained in a car crash in the late 1980s. He also has heart problems and experienced a heart attack just four days after he was first confronted by federal investigators.

Rasile argues that Soucy would be subject to increased “prison abuse” as a former correction officer, so just the “specter” of a prison sentence has had the same impact on him as what an actual prison term would accomplish.

“Mr. Soucy has seen first-hand the horrors that can occur to a ‘normal’ or ‘typical’ inmate in the prison system and he understands the type of treatment that awaits him when he is sentenced. Thus, he has been living with his worst nightmare for the past 18 plus months,” he wrote. 

A similar argument failed to sway the judge when she sentenced David Moffa, another former correction officer and friend of Soucy’s who also was involved in the conspiracy. Arterton sentenced Moffa to two years in prison.

“I realize this sentence is one of particular shock given your career, but the message is that the cost of corruption ought to be too high,” Arterton told Moffa in June.

Soucy is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday, Nov. 18.