Prosecutors have asked a federal court judge to reject a prison sentence requested by the attorneys of former Gov. John G. Rowland. In court documents filed Tuesday, they questioned whether Rowland deserved “yet another ‘break.”
Last week, U.S. Attorneys and Rowland’s lawyers offered different opinions on how much time in prison the former governor should serve for his recent convictions for campaign corruption.
Prosecutors asked for as much as 46 months, pointing to Rowland’s history of corruption leading to his resignation from office in 2004 and 10-month bid in prison. The former governor’s lawyers asked for a sentence of less than 18 months, citing letters from supporters and his “exemplary character.”
In response, the government has asked Judge Janet Bond Arterton to consider whether Rowland deserves another “break” when she sentences him on Jan. 7.
“The Government respectfully submits that, in promoting respect for law, the Court should consider whether Mr. Rowland is deserving of yet another ‘break’; whether all defendants — rich or poor, famous or anonymous, influential or powerless — will be treated equally in federal court; and whether our election laws and the electorate are deserving of the protection that only criminal penalties can give,” they wrote.
In September, a jury found Rowland guilty of conspiring to hide from regulators fees he tried to charge to two congressional campaigns for consulting work. One campaign, Republican Mark Greenberg’s 2010 5th congressional district bid, eventually rejected the former governor’s offer.
The other campaign, Lisa Wilson-Foley’s 2012 bid for the same seat, accepted Rowland’s proposal. Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, arranged to pay him off-the-books through Brian Foley’s nursing home company, Apple Rehab. Both Foley’s eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and cooperated with federal investigators.
In their sentencing memo, Rowland’s lawyers argued that it was not fair that the former governor would likely do more prison time than his cooperating co-conspirators. Prosecutors rejected that argument in their Tuesday response.
“Mr. Rowland is the only participant who has previously been convicted of corrupting his public office. He is the only participant who has demonstrated to this Court that a prior term of imprisonment was insufficient to deter him from committing crimes,” they wrote.
Foley and Wilson-Foley are scheduled to be sentenced by Arterton on Jan. 9.
U.S. Attorneys were also dismissive of another argument by the defense, which stated that “John’s alleged conduct had no financial victims.” Prosecutors said the harm of campaign corruption is not always “measured in dollars and cents.”
“The harm here was the gash that his crime tore through our state’s already weakened democratic fabric,” they wrote.
Rowland’s attorneys filed their own response Tuesday to the government’s request that the former governor serve almost four years in prison. They called the requested term “excessive” and said it refuses to acknowledge Rowland’s commitment to public service, mentoring young people, and his friends and family.
They also accused the feds of using unnecessarily harsh language in their court filings.
The government’s sentencing memo “retreads Mr. Rowland’s prior conviction — conduct for which Mr. Rowland has already been punished — at length. And it gratuitously diminishes Mr. Rowland’s accomplishments and disparages his character with its description of Mr. Rowland as ‘arrogan[t],’ and assertions that ‘he delights in the illicit, dark side of politics,’ ‘poses a danger to the public,’ and ‘has been a blight on Connecticut politics,’” Rowland’s lawyers wrote.
The former governor’s lawyers also reiterated their belief that Rowland is unlikely to commit another corruption crime after the most recent conviction.
“Mr. Rowland does not pose a risk of recidivism. He is 57 years old, and has no intention, or ability, to return to politics where both his 2004 conviction and the alleged offense conduct here occurred,” they wrote.