Sen. Dennis Bradley, D-Bridgeport Credit: Christine Stuart photo

Bridgeport Sen. Dennis Bradley’s trial for what the federal government alleges is a conspiracy to defraud Connecticut’s clean election system could start as early as today. 

It’s been a year since Bradley and his campaign treasurer, Jessica Martinez, pleaded not guilty to charges that they attempted to obtain around $180,000 in public grants while misrepresenting the campaign’s finances to election regulators. 

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.

In a statement last year, then Acting U.S. Attorney Leonard Boyle said Bradley and Martinez broke the rules “then engaged in an extensive cover up to conceal their illegal behavior and to receive additional public funds.”

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. Bradley never received the second grant, but went on to win the election and bested his Republican opponent with 87% of the vote.

If convicted both could face up to 20 years or more in prison. 

Last year, Senate President Martin Looney, stripped Bradley of all of his committee assignments. 

Martinez is charged additionally with lying to the FBI and to the grand jury that handed down an indictment in the case a year ago. She was unsuccessful in trying to separate her case from Bradley’s so it will be a joint trial in Bridgeport federal court. 

Text messages between the two are just some of the evidence the U.S. Department of Justice plans on presenting in the case. 

Tina Manus, a campaign volunteer, pleaded guilty last October to a wire fraud charge. Manus agreed to cooperate in the ongoing investigation and was released on $150,000 bond. 

Bradley’s trial is the third election lawsuit filed against a Connecticut campaign in the past decade, but the first focused solely on Connecticut’s clean election program. 

The feds successfully prosecuted former Speaker of the House Chris Donovan’s deputy campaign manager, Robert Braddock Jr., for accepting nearly $30,000 in donations for his failed congressional bid in order to influence tobacco legislation up for debate at the state house. 

The feds also successfully prosecuted former Gov. John G. Rowland for failing to report work he did for Lisa Wilson-Foley’s congressional campaign in 2012. Rowland was found guilty of working as an adviser to her campaign and arranging to be compensated through a contract with her husband’s successful healthcare company. The candidate and her husband, Brian Foley, pleaded guilty to related charges. Wilson-Foley was sentenced to five months in prison, while Rowland got 30 months.