Rowland Pleads Not Guilty; Lawyer "Eager to Go to Trial"
Former Governor John G. Rowland has pleaded not guilty to charges that he broke election laws to pursue roles with two congressional campaigns. A federal judge in New Haven heard the plea Friday and said jury selection is scheduled to begin on June 10.
Rowland arrived early at the courthouse with his Washington, D.C.-based lawyer, Reid H. Weingarten. Judge Ellen Bree Burns read the former governor his rights, and Rowland posted a $250,000 non-surety bond with the condition that he can't leave the state until the trial begins.
Weingarten spoke to reporters following the arraignment. "We will have an aggressive challenge to these charges," he said. "We are looking forward to it. Most of all, we are looking forward to this trial and we fully expect our client to be fully vindicated."
A grand jury on Thursday returned a seven-count indictment alleging Rowland schemed to conceal his involvement with campaigns for U.S. House in 2010 and 2012. Rowland, 56, faces charges including falsification of records in a federal investigation, conspiracy, and causing illegal campaign contributions.
If convicted, those charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 57 years.
The charges are tied to federal allegations that Rowland conspired to conceal his involvement with two congressional campaigns, ultimately arranging for $35,000 in undisclosed "consulting" fees with candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley, who was running for Rowland's old seat in the fifth congressional district. Wilson-Foley pleaded guilty to conspiring with Rowland, and is cooperating with federal investigators.
Rowland was a rising star in the Republican party before a corruption scandal ten years ago led him to resign as governor and serve ten months in prison.
In the indictment, prosecutors cited a series of emails quoting Rowland as writing, "I think this arrangement is going to work out better than either one of us had anticipated." And another, which was signed, "Love the Gov."
Since 2010, Rowland was the host of a popular afternoon drive-time radio show on WTIC-AM in Hartford. He resigned that position last week to attend to "personal issues."
This report includes information from The Associated Press.