Former Congressional Candidate Sentenced to Prison for Violating Federal Campaign Finance Laws
LISA WILSON-FOLEY, 55, of Simsbury, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven for violating federal campaign finance laws. Judge Arterton ordered WILSON-FOLEY to serve five months of imprisonment, followed by one year of probation, the first five months of which WILSON-FOLEY must serve in home confinement with electronic monitoring. WILSON-FOLEY also was ordered to pay a fine of $20,000, as well as the cost of her incarceration and electronic monitoring.
“While seeking election to the U.S. House of Representatives, Lisa Wilson-Foley conspired to hide from the electorate payments made to a shadow operative hired to assist her campaign both quietly and on the radio,” stated First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Gustafson. “It is troubling that she believed that there was nothing wrong with this criminal arrangement and it is equally disturbing that after pleading guilty, she chose to minimize her role in the scheme. Public officials, and candidates for public office, must be held accountable for criminal behavior. Hopefully, awareness that such conduct can result in jail will encourage other candidates and campaign workers to follow the law. I thank the U.S. Postal Inspectors for meticulously investigating this case in an effort to preserve fair and open elections.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is proud to have led this investigation that unearthed corrupt conduct by a candidate running for federal office,” stated Shelly A. Binkowski, Inspector in Charge for the Boston Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “Postal Inspectors will continue to work closely with the Connecticut U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal law enforcement partners to investigate similar crimes that can corrode our trust in all public officials.”
According to court documents and statements made in court, in 2011 and 2012, LISA WILSON-FOLEY was a candidate for election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District, and competing in a primary campaign for the nomination of the Republican Party. As a candidate for federal office, WILSON-FOLEY and her associates formed and registered with the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) the “Lisa Wilson-Foley for Congress” committee in order to receive contributions and make expenditures on behalf of her campaign.
WILSON-FOLEY’s husband, Brian Foley, owns a Connecticut nursing home company and a number of other related companies, including a real estate company.
During the primary campaign, WILSON-FOLEY, Brian Foley, former Connecticut Governor John Rowland and others conspired to conceal from the FEC and the public that Rowland was paid money in exchange for services he provided to WILSON-FOLEY’s campaign. As part of the scheme, Rowland proposed to WILSON-FOLEY and Foley that he be hired to work on the campaign. WILSON-FOLEY wanted Rowland to work on the campaign, but believed that because Rowland was a previously convicted felon, public disclosure of his paid role in the campaign would result in substantial negative publicity for WILSON-FOLEY’s candidacy. In order to retain Rowland’s services for the campaign while reducing the risk that his paid campaign role would be disclosed to the public, WILSON-FOLEY, Foley and Rowland agreed that Rowland would be paid by Foley to work on the campaign.
Foley, Rowland and others created and executed a fictitious contract outlining an agreement purportedly for consulting services between Rowland and the law offices of an attorney who worked for Foley’s nursing home company. Foley made regular payments to Rowland for his work on behalf of WILSON-FOLEY’s campaign and routed those payments from his real estate company through the law offices of the attorney. Rowland provided nominal services to Foley’s nursing home company in order to create a “cover” that he was being paid for those nominal services when, in fact, he was being paid in exchange for his work on behalf of WILSON-FOLEY’s campaign.
Between September 2011 and April 2012, Rowland was paid approximately $35,000 for services rendered to WILSON-FOLEY’s campaign. The payments originated with Foley and constituted campaign contributions, but were not reported to the FEC in violation of federal campaign finance laws.
On March 31, 2014, WILSON-FOLEY and Foley each pleaded guilty to conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions. On January 9, 2015, Foley, who cooperated in the investigation and prosecution of this matter, was sentenced to three months in community confinement (halfway house), three years of probation and a $30,000 fine.
On September 19, 2014, a jury found Rowland guilty of two counts of falsification of records in a federal investigation, one count of conspiracy, two counts of causing false statements to be made to the FEC, and two counts of causing illegal campaign contributions. On March 18, 2015, he was sentenced to 30 months of imprisonment, three years of supervised release and a $35,000 fine.
This matter was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Liam Brennan and Christopher Mattei.
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