Sen. Dennis Bradley (CTNewsJunkie File Photo)

State Sen. Dennis Bradley, D-Bridgeport, entered not guilty pleas Tuesday to federal wire fraud crimes and charges that he entered into a conspiracy to defraud Connecticut’s clean election fund.

According to a 24-page indictment, Bradley and a co-defendant — Jessica Martinez, his former campaign treasurer and Bridgeport Board of Education member — are accused of scheming to obtain $179,850 in public campaign finance grants during his 2018 campaign for his state senate seat. 

Bradley is accused of misrepresenting compliance with state clean election laws and restrictions in order to qualify for an $84,140 primary campaign grant and attempting to qualify for an additional $95,710 general election grant. 

The charges stem from a March 15, 2018, campaign kick-off event held at Bridgeport restaurant Dolphin’s Cove. According to the indictment, Bradley skirted clean election reporting requirements by claiming the campaign event was related to his law firm Bradley, Denkovich & Karayiannis. Bradley used the event to announce his candidacy, but his campaign financial disclosures to election regulators omitted the event and its costs. 

Bradley appeared in New Haven before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Spector, facing charges including conspiracy, wire fraud, false statements, and false declarations to a grand jury. He was released on a $300,000 bond. During the hearing, his lawyer James Glasser argued that no bond was necessary due to Bradley’s roots in Bridgeport.

“He’s been in Bridgeport, he’s established his professional business in Bridgeport, his family lives in Bridgeport, his six-month-old child is in Bridgeport, he owns property in Bridgeport, he’s a politician in Bridgeport, his life is in Bridgeport. He’s been aware of this matter for well over a year, hasn’t gone any place,” Glasser said. 

U.S. Attorney Jonathan Francis argued for a higher bond. He said Bradley had access to significant resources.

“Two hundred thousand dollars, for someone who has access to at least $100,000 at any moment, strikes me as low,” Francis said.

The judge left Bradley with instructions to appear in court on Aug. 2.

In a press release on the case, acting U.S. Attorney Leonard Boyle said that candidates for public office, especially those using clean election funds, needed to be held to a higher standard. 

“It is alleged that these defendants not only broke the rules at the outset of Mr. Bradley’s first campaign for the State Senate, but then engaged in an extensive cover up to conceal their illegal behavior and to receive additional public funds,” Boyle said. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our FBI partners are committed to holding public officials to account.”

While Bradley was facing the charges in New Haven, his colleagues in the state senate were expected to bring out a long-awaited bill legalizing online gambling and sports betting in Connecticut. The bill originates in the Public Safety and Security Committee, of which Bradley is co-chairman. 

Normally he would be expected to advocate for the bill on the Senate floor and answer questions from other lawmakers. However, Senate President Martin Looney released a statement Tuesday afternoon, announcing he had stripped Bradley of his committee chairmanship and named Sprague Democrat, Sen. Cathy Osten to the post. 

Osten also serves as co-chairwoman of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee, one of two budget-writing panels busy negotiating a state operating budget for the next two years. Looney also rescinded Bradley’s leadership appointment as deputy majority leader.

“Based on the current available information regarding Senator Bradley, I have taken a first step to protect the integrity of the State Senate,” Looney said.