HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Attorneys for former Gov. John G. Rowland on Thursday asked a judge for leniency when he is sentenced for scheming to hide work for political campaigns, citing his civic engagement and the unlikelihood that he would commit new crimes since he has no chance of returning to politics.
Rowland, a twice-convicted felon, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 7. He was convicted in September of conspiracy and two counts each of falsifying records in a federal investigation, causing false statements to be made to the Federal Election Commission and causing illegal campaign contributions.
Rowland had been a rising star in Republican Party when he resigned as governor in 2004 and later served 10 months in prison for taking illegal gifts while in office.
In the new criminal case, his lawyers said in their filing, he deserves a punishment below the federal sentencing guidelines for his case of 18 to 24 months in prison. They said such a sentence would acknowledge what they called Rowland's "exemplary character" and allow him to continue to help others through his charitable work. Prosecutors have not yet indicated how long a sentence they will recommend.
The government's case centered on a contract between Rowland and a nursing home chain owned by the husband of 2012 5th District congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley. Rowland's attorneys argued he volunteered for the campaign while receiving $35,000 to consult for her husband's company, but prosecutors successfully argued that the money was an illegal payment for campaign services.
Prosecutors also showed Rowland had tried to strike a similar deal with another candidate, Mark Greenberg, during the 2010 election cycle to cover up campaign involvement that he knew would invite unwelcome publicity.
Rowland's attorneys argued that he is highly unlikely to commit any future crimes because, in disgrace, he stands no chance of returning to the political arena where he has gotten himself into trouble.
"Mr. Rowland has always been drawn to politics, but understands that chapter of his life is over. Mr. Rowland has no intention to return to politics in any form in the future. And, as a practical matter, any return would be impossible now," they wrote.
Rowland, 57, was elected to the U.S. House three times and the governorship three times. He also served as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He had been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate or Cabinet member before he was impeached and resigned.
He was released from prison in 2006 and began rebuilding his life, landing a job as in economic development before becoming a radio show host. Prosecutors say he used his radio show to promote Wilson-Foley's campaign.
Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband each pleaded guilty in the spring to a misdemeanor of conspiring to make an illegal campaign donation in the form of the $35,000 in payments to Rowland. They also are scheduled to be sentenced in January.
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