Two nursing home executives testified Friday that former Gov. John G. Rowland did little work for a nursing home chain, even though he was being paid $5,000 per month for his services.
Rowland has been charged with trying to use the contract with the nursing home owned by congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley’s husband to hide his involvement with her campaign. Rowland’s defense team has tried to prove that the contract with Apple Rehab was legitimate.
Jack Boynton, vice president of human resources for Apple Rehab, was in charge of negotiating contracts with the unions at Apple Rehab’s facilities. Boynton said he never met with Rowland in 2011. That’s when Boynton was in negotiations with the Service Employees International Union at its Rocky Hill facility. Only two of the 26 nursing homes owned by Brian Foley are unionized.
“How high on your priority list does dealing with unions rank?” prosecutors asked Boynton. “It’s number one, two, three, four, five, and six,” he replied.
Boynton worked closely on negotiations with Brian Bedard, the COO of Apple Rehab, who once told him Rowland had said to “stay the course” when it came to the union negotiations. But that’s the only time Boynton heard the former governor mentioned.
Ann Collette, the vice president of business development and marketing, testified that she became aware of Rowland’s contract with Apple Rehab when she received a 9 p.m. phone call at her home from Bedard. She said Bedard instructed her to read a draft press release he had sent to her personal email account.
The press release was a response to the news stories that had begun to trickle out about Rowland’s involvement with the Wilson-Foley campaign and his contract for work with Apple Rehab. But what was surprising to Collette was that the press release said Rowland was involved in areas of the company she oversaw.
She said she never worked with Rowland during the six-month period he worked for the company, and she had to cancel the one nursing home tour she planned to give him because of an unexpected medical procedure.
Collette, who breezed through her testimony and job description for the jury Friday, became tearful when she was asked by prosecutors to explain the strain the incident put on her relationship with Bedard, who is her boss.
“It’s been horrible,” Collette said as she broke down in tears.
Collette testified that she also was asked by Bedard and Brian Foley to dub Lisa Wilson-Foley into a television commercial for Apple Rehab.
Those ads aired, but at some point she was asked to take them down.
She said Bedard and Foley “tag teamed me and asked they be taken down.” It was later relayed to her that “Rowland advised they be pulled.”
Collette also testified that in 2010, when Wilson-Foley was running for lieutenant governor, about 58 employees were asked, during work hours, to watch a mock debate between her and Bedard. That same year she was encouraged to put a Wilson-Foley sign in her front yard. She said nothing like that happened during the congressional campaign.
Federal prosecutors plan to rest their case on Monday, at which point Rowland’s defense team will have an opportunity to call their own witnesses. It’s unclear whether they will call Wilson-Foley or Rowland to testify.