Lawyers for former Gov. John G. Rowland asked a judge for leniency Thursday in court documents, requesting a sentence of less than 18 months in prison for his recent corruption convictions.
A jury found Rowland guilty in September of seven corruption counts for conspiring to hide from regulators the compensation for work he did on Lisa Wilson-Foley’s 2012 congressional campaign and for trying to arrange a similar scheme with Mark Greenberg’s 2010 congressional campaign.
U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton will sentence Rowland during a hearing on Jan. 7. It will not be the former governor’s first sentencing hearing. Rowland was sentenced in 2005 to a year and one day in prison followed by four months of house arrest for corruption while he was governor.
Rowland’s attorneys and prosecutors have filed documents, each side offering their own opinion of an appropriate punishment. U.S. Attorney’s are seeking 37 to 46 months, according to their sentencing memo filed early Friday morning.
Rowland’s legal team, led by attorney Reid Weingarten, called for a sentence shorter than 18 months to reflect the “unique circumstances of this case, acknowledges Mr. Rowland’s exemplary character, and permits him to continue to help others and contribute to society.”
The defense memo asserts that the former governor has already endured a punishment as a result of his trial and conviction, has been singled out for prosecution above his co-conspirators in the case, and is a 57-year-old man with family responsibilities.
“John has already been punished greatly by being criminally prosecuted for alleged conduct that is normally addressed civilly. What he had rebuilt following his prior conviction, he has now lost,” the memo reads.
Attached to the sentencing memo were dozens of letters of support for Rowland. The letters came from former political colleagues to members of New Life Church where he attended Sunday services, to William Marotti, a pastor who served as Rowland’s co-host on an afternoon talk radio show on WTIC.
“Larger than life. Polarizing. A lightning rod. All words that have been used to describe John Rowland and all true. But, reviewing the many letters offered in support of John at sentencing, a fuller picture emerges,” his lawyers wrote. “These letters, many of which show John in quieter moments, reveal a man that is not easily reduced to broad strokes.”
Former Democratic state Rep. Bill Dyson of New Haven wrote a letter on behalf of the former governor.
“In my interaction with John Rowland, I always found him to be a fair and compassionate individual,” Dyson wrote. “Ours was a relationship based on mutual respect. In my 32 years at the State Legislature, that level of rapport with a colleague was rare.”
David Boomer, a former Rowland staffer, said he thinks Rowland possesses many positive attributes and “I just cannot see what purpose is served by sending him back to prison for, what I am told, could be years.”
In another letter, John H. Tobin, former president and CEO of Waterbury Hospital, called Rowland a “natural leader” who “remains a popular figure in Waterbury and deservedly so.”
However, in an effort to argue that Rowland is unlikely to engage in corruption again, his lawyers wrote that the former governor is now done with politics for good.
“Mr. Rowland has always been drawn to politics, but understands that chapter of his life is over. Mr. Rowland has no intention to return to politics in any form in the future. And, as a practical matter, any return would be impossible now,” they wrote.
Arterton has a reputation for being tough on corruption offenders. She recently handed lengthy prison sentences to defendants in other campaign corruption cases. The judge presided over several cases stemming from a campaign finance conspiracy involving former House Speaker Chris Donovan’s unsuccessful 2012 congressional campaign in the 5th District.
In those cases, Arterton sentenced five men to at least 21 months in prison. In the case of Donovan’s former campaign manager, Robert Braddock, Arterton presided over a trial before sentencing Braddock to 38 months in prison. A federal appeals court upheld that sentence last week. Arterton sent another defendant in that conspiracy to prison for two years, despite his career as a correction officer and a mostly-clean criminal record.
“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,” she told him.