Prosecutors filed court documents Friday rejecting former Gov. John Rowland’s claim they withheld evidence that could have helped Rowland fight the corruption charges a jury found him guilty of in September.
The former governor’s recent convictions stem from work the government says he did for candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley’s 2012 congressional campaign. A jury found him guilty of conspiring to hide 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.
But 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.
Rowland’s lawyers say the government did not provide them with evidence that, early on, Wilson-Foley believed Rowland was doing legitimate work for her husband’s healthcare company, Apple Rehab. They have asked Judge Janet Bond Arterton for a hearing on that evidence and are seeking a new trial.
In a reply filed Friday, prosecutors said Rowland’s lawyers had access to the evidence and added that it would have done little to change the jury’s verdict even if it were presented at trial.
“The government exhaustively reviewed its disclosures and the trial record to demonstrate that an evidentiary hearing is unnecessary because the information set forth in counsel’s affidavit, even if credited, was disclosed to Mr. Rowland, available for presentation to the jury and immaterial to the jury’s verdict,” they wrote.
According to prosecutors, Rowland’s attorneys had access to “numerous iterations” of Wilson-Foley’s claim that she had believed the former governor was working for her husband rather than the campaign. They wrote that it was unlikely Rowland’s defense team would have called Wilson-Foley as a witness because her cross examination would have been “highly inculpatory to Mr. Rowland.”
The U.S. attorneys asked Arterton to deny the request for an evidentiary hearing and reschedule Rowland’s sentencing hearing.
“Mr. Rowland received a fair trial in every respect,” they wrote. “The government fully complied with its [disclosure] obligations. An evidentiary hearing is unwarranted. Therefore, the government asks this court to . . . schedule Mr. Rowland’s sentencing.”
The former governor’s lawyers disagree. In a filing last month, Reid Weingarten, Rowland’s lead attorney, said that documents filed by Wilson-Foley’s lawyer, Craig Raabe, should trigger a new trial.
“Even standing alone, the Raabe affidavit’s disclosures are sufficient to warrant a new trial. Following discovery and a hearing in this matter, Mr. Rowland will move for a new trial,” Weingarten wrote.
Raabe disputes how prosecutors have characterized Wilson-Foley. 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. They claim that Wilson-Foley has been unable to accept responsibility for her role in the conspiracy.
Meanwhile, prosecutors are seeking a sentence of more than three years for Rowland. In another memo filed in December, they cited the former governor’s past corruption conviction. A decade ago, Rowland resigned from office before serving 10 months in prison for receiving illegal gifts connected to state business.
Brian Foley is the only conspirator to be sentenced so far. 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.