Douglas Healey file photo for CTNJ
Former Gov. John G. Rowland (Douglas Healey file photo for CTNJ)

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge not to give former Gov. John G. Rowland a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

Prosecutors said last week that a motion by the defense to keep the two-time felon out of prison pending appeal should be denied because he’s unlikely to get a new trial.

Rowland’s lawyers last month filed a motion with U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton to prevent Rowland, who has been free on bail since his March 18 conviction, from reporting to prison on June 16.

“Unless Mr. Rowland is granted continued release pending appeal, he will likely serve a substantial portion of his 30 month sentence before his appeal is decided,” the motion said.

The prosecutors maintain Rowland’s lawyers did not meet the four-pronged standard to keep their client out of a jail cell pending appeal. The standard requires proof that Rowland is not a flight risk, that he is not simply looking to stall the process, and that he is raising a substantial question of law or fact that is likely to result in a reversal or a new trial.

The prosecution refuted claims in the defense motion that prosecutors withheld information and misrepresented Rowland’s complicity in the alleged scam.

In September, a jury found Rowland guilty of conspiring to hide from election regulators fees he tried to charge to two congressional campaigns for consulting work. Republican Mark Greenberg’s 2010 5th Congressional District bid eventually rejected the former governor’s offer. But congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, accepted the former governor’s offer and pleaded guilty last year to related charges. Wilson-Foley was sentenced to a five-month prison term, while her husband was sentenced to three months in a halfway house for their roles in the conspiracy.

In addition to a 2.5-year prison sentence, Rowland was fined $35,000 for hiding campaign work from election regulators. Rowland requested that he serve his time at the Federal Bureau of Prisons facility in Otisville, N.Y.

The sentence came 10 years after Rowland’s first sentencing on charges related to illegally accepting gifts while in office.

Prosecutors said in their filing that Rowland acted with the intent to deceive by falsifying contracts to suggest a business relationship where there was none.

The defense motion, filed by Andrew L. Fish of the New York-based Locke Lord law firm, said prosecutors withheld information from them regarding a consulting contract with Foley’s nursing home chain and Wilson-Foley’s perception of the work the former governor was doing for her husband and the campaign. Fish wrote that Wilson-Foley told the prosecution she believed Rowland was hired for “a real job, not a ‘sham.’”

The prosecution’s response stated that voluminous documents were disclosed to the defense and that, even if the claims of suppression were true, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the trial or prospects for a new one.

Fish also wrote that the court excluded three communications that would have shown Rowland and Apple Healthcare Chief Operating Officer Brian Bedard had discussed actual nursing home business involving the unionization of personal care attendants. The prosecution contends Mr. Bedard was able to testify on the substance of that email and that “the Defendant suffered no prejudice at all from the fact that the final email in the string was not admitted.”

The defense went on to claim that two former Greenberg staffers “opined” when one said the alleged proposal for Rowland to be paid through a foundation “didn’t smell right” and the other called it “illegal.” 

The prosecution said there was no objection from the defense during the trial for the former comment, nor should there have been. The latter comment was struck down by the judge and the jury was told to disregard it.