Lawyers for a co-conspirator of former Gov. John Rowland cited notes Monday that aid Rowland’s claim that federal prosecutors withheld evidence before convincing a jury to find him guilty of campaign corruption.
Rowland was convicted in September of working for candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley’s 2012 congressional campaign and hiding his pay from regulators through a sham contract with her husband. Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, pleaded guilty to related charges last year.
However, a judge put sentencing hearings for both Rowland and Wilson-Foley on hold because of conflicting accounts from Wilson-Foley and the prosecution team. As a result, lawyers for all three parties have been trading legal filings in a prolonged post-conviction dispute.
Despite her guilty plea, Wilson-Foley’s lawyers insist that she initially believed Rowland was volunteering for her campaign while doing legitimate work for her husband’s healthcare company. Rowland’s lawyers, who made the same argument at trial, say prosecutors hid the candidate’s position from them. The feds, meanwhile, have disputed Wilson-Foley’s recollection of her past comments.
In the latest memo, filed Monday, Wilson-Foley’s lawyers say they were taking notes while prosecutors interviewed their client and those notes back up her claims that she did not believe the Rowland arrangement was illegal.
“Each counsel’s notes corroborate the others’. The affidavit is accurate and reveals what actually transpired in this matter between Ms. Wilson-Foley, her counsel, and the Government,” the memo reads.
The memo, filed by attorney Craig A. Raabe, is useful to Rowland’s legal team, which is trying to build a case to overturn the former governor’s conviction. Raabe wrote that he is concerned with how prosecutors’ characterization of Wilson-Foley will impact her sentencing.
In documents filed in December, U.S. Attorneys Christopher Mattei and Liam Brennan asked a judge to sentence Wilson-Foley to a 10-month prison term.
“For whatever reason, Ms. Wilson-Foley seems incapable of candidly admitting what the trial evidence established: in September 2011, she, her husband, and Mr. Rowland had an understanding that Mr. Rowland would be paid for campaign work through Apple in order to prevent the public and the FEC from discovering the fact that Mr. Rowland was being paid to assist Ms. Wilson-Foley’s campaign,” they wrote.
However, Raabe maintains Wilson-Foley has been consistent. In December, he wrote that Wilson-Foley “advised the government before Mr. Rowland’s trial that she did not believe in September 2011 that the sole purpose of her husband hiring Mr. Rowland was subterfuge — and such truthful testimony from Ms. Wilson-Foley would not fit the government’s singular, black and white theory against Mr. Rowland.”
Brian Foley, her husband, testified as the government’s key witness during Rowland’s trial. He told the jury that he hired Rowland as a consultant to his nursing home company, Apple Rehab, in order to pay the former governor for his campaign expertise without alerting the government or the public. Rowland, who was previously convicted of corruption in office, was seen as having too much baggage to be openly associated with the campaign.
“I figured if I hired him as a consultant for Apple it wouldn’t have to be disclosed with the Federal Elections Commission,” Foley said in September. And “he would be supportive of the campaign. That was a way not to have to report him to the Federal Elections Commission.”
So far, Foley is the only person related to the case to go before Judge Janet Bond Arterton for sentencing. Citing his cooperation with the government, Arterton allowed Foley to avoid jail time and sentenced him to three years of probation and three months in a halfway house.
Sentencing hearings for Wilson-Foley and Rowland are on hold indefinitely while Rowland’s attorneys seek a hearing on their allegations that prosecutors withheld evidence from them.
“Assuming Ms. Wilson-Foley’s representations are accurate and this material was not produced, Mr. Rowland has suffered material prejudice,” Reid Weingarten, Rowland’s lead attorney, wrote earlier this month.