The federal prosecutor who won the conviction of former Gov. John G. Rowland and two political aides working for Chris Donovan’s failed 2012 congressional bid is leaving the U.S. Attorney’s office for private practice.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Mattei, who heads the Financial Fraud and Public Corruption Unit, will join Koskoff, Koskoff and Beider of Bridgeport in October. The personal injury firm boasts on its website that it’s won six of the 10 largest personal injury verdicts in Connecticut’s history.
“Chris embodies many of the best traits that we hope for in prosecutors,” U.S. Attorney Deidre Daly said in a statement Tuesday. “He is passionate but always fair-minded, highly productive, hardworking, and masterful in court. Personally, I am deeply grateful for his leadership, guidance, and positive energy. It has been wonderful having him on the team.”
In March, Rowland was sentenced to 30 months in prison for federal campaign violations related to his work on former Congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley’s campaign. Mattei led Rowland’s prosecution during an 12-day trial in September 2014. Rowland, who served time 10 years ago for corruption, is still free on bond pending his appeal.
Mattei also convicted Robert Braddock Jr., the former finance director for Chris Donovan’s 2012 congressional bid. Braddock and seven other men were convicted of concealing the source of $27,500 in campaign donations from tobacco shop owners who wanted Donovan, in his role as Speaker of the House, to kill state legislation that would have cut into their profits. Donovan’s campaign manager, Joshua Nassi, pleaded guilty to similar charges. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Nassi was released May 8 and Braddock is scheduled for release in August 2016.
More recently Mattei was involved in the conviction of former House Republican Chief of Staff George Gallo, who pleaded guilty to steering Republican candidates to a direct mail company in Florida in exchange for kickbacks.
Mattei also is in charge of the Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force, which coordinates the activities of investigators from the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the IRS, the Inspector General’s Office, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In February, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced the formation of the task force to investigate corrupt public officials, the misuse of public funds, and related criminal activity.
“Connecticut’s unfortunate recent history with corruption is well known, but so is this Office’s history of combating corrupt activity,” Daly said in announcing the task force. “Our efforts have been aided by a dogged media and courageous, conscientious citizens, business owners and public officials who have provided information about corrupt activity in their midst. We call on public servants, the vast majority of whom are honest brokers, to not look the other way when they see indications of corruption. We cannot overstate the importance of citizen participation in our fight against corruption, and we urge all citizens to assist us in this effort.”
Daly will name a replacement for Mattei on the task force and the Financial Fraud and Public Corruption Unit soon.
In the meantime, a spokesman said the U.S. Attorney’s Office plans to remain vigilant in rooting out public corruption.
Mattei’s new employer is happy to have an experienced litigator on board.
“It’s rare these days to find a lawyer as young as Chris who has proven trial experience,” Michael Koskoff of Koskoff, Koskoff and Bieder, said. “Chris has already demonstrated the capacity to effectively handle complex jury trials earning him the respect of the bench and bar alike. Equally important is the fact that Chris possesses the compassion and creativity necessary to be a great trial lawyer. He is a welcome addition to our trial team.”