Prosecutors denied on Friday that there are grounds for a retrial of John Rowland, a three-term Connecticut ex-governor who was found guilty in a corruption scandal.
A jury found Rowland guilty of violating federal election law last September after he was accused of conspiring with Brian Foley SPH ’81 — owner of the nursing home company Apple Rehab — to hide Rowland’s involvement in the 2012 congressional campaign of Lisa Wilson-Foley SPH ’88. Rowland was allegedly paid for his work on the campaign through a sham contract with Apple Rehab. Based on an affidavit submitted by Wilson-Foley’s lawyer, Craig Raabe, Rowland’s lawyers have claimed prosecutors withheld evidence pertinent to the case, and that federal Judge Janet Bond Arterton should therefore grant a new trial. Arterton has already indefinitely postponed sentencing Wilson-Foley and Rowland because of these complications.
The government submitted a memorandum last Friday in opposition to Rowland’s request for evidentiary hearing regarding Raabe’s affidavit.
“The government exhaustively reviewed its disclosure and the trial record to demonstrate that an evidentiary hearing is unnecessary because the information set forth in counsel’s affidavit, even if credited, was disclosed to Mr. Rowland, available for presentation to the jury and immaterial to the jury’s verdict,” the memorandum said.
A violation of due process is sufficient to merit a new trial, according to federal law. Rowland’s lawyers requested an evidentiary hearing in hopes that Arterton will find that the evidence withheld is a sufficient indication of a violation of due process.
The evidence that Rowland claims was withheld is in an affidavit filed by Raabe on Jan. 16.
The affidavit says Raabe had informed the government that Wilson-Foley believed Rowland’s work with Apple Rehab served the dual purpose of providing advice on unionization issues the company faced, as well as assistance with the campaign.
The memorandum in opposition to Rowland’s claim said the government complied with the Brady Rule, which states that prosecutors must disclose any and all exculpatory evidence to the defendant.
The government insists in the memorandum that Rowland had access to Wilson-Foley’s statements through other mediums and that it is not the government’s duty to provide “each and every statement that the counsel claims to have reported to the Government.”
“It seems to be a long shot though that they’re asking for a new trial,” said Gary Rose, a political science professor at Sacred Heart University. But, he added, “If in fact evidence was withheld, that could warrant a new trial.”
On Jan. 12, Arterton ruled that Foley would be placed on probation for 36 months, the first three months of which will be served in a halfway house. Foley is also required to pay a fine of $30,000 within the first 30 days of this sentence.
Rose said he was surprised that, given that Foley was so central to the case, he received such a minimal sentence.
The Brady rule is based on the 1963 Brady v. Maryland Supreme Court case.