State Senator and His Campaign Treasurer Charged in Scheme to Obtain Public Election Funds
Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and David Sundberg, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced that a federal grand jury in New Haven returned an indictment yesterday charging Connecticut State Senator DENNIS A. BRADLEY, JR., and his former campaign Treasurer, JESSICA MARTINEZ, with multiple offenses related to defrauding Connecticut’s program for publicly funding political campaigns during Bradley’s 2018 run for State Senate.
Bradley and Martinez appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Spector in New Haven, entered pleas of not guilty to the charges, and were released on bonds in the amount of $300,000 and $250,000, respectively.
As alleged in the indictment, Bradley, 38, of Bridgeport, has been a member of the Connecticut State Senate since 2018, representing the 23rd State Senate District. Martinez, 39, of Bridgeport, was the Treasurer for Bradley’s 2018 State Senate campaign. In Bradley’s 2018 campaign for State Senate, Bradley, Martinez, and others conspired to defraud the Connecticut State Election Enforcement Commission (“SEEC”), the Citizens’ Election Fund, and the State of Connecticut by making misrepresentations concerning Bradley’s compliance with state election law and the requirements and restrictions of the Citizens’ Election Program (“CEP”), a voluntary public election-financing program under which candidates can apply to SEEC for grants to fund their primary and general election campaigns.
“Candidates for public office must be held to a high standard of conduct, especially when they apply for public funds for their campaigns,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Boyle. “It is alleged that these defendants not only broke the rules at the outset of Mr. Bradley’s first campaign for the State Senate, but then engaged in an extensive cover up to conceal their illegal behavior and to receive additional public funds. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our FBI partners are committed to holding public officials to account.”
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation is committed to protecting the citizens of Connecticut against all forms of illegal fraud and deception,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Sundberg. “Maintaining the integrity of our state and federal election processes is crucial to ensuring the will of the voting public is carried out based on truth and fairness.”
The indictment alleges that Bradley, Martinez, and their co-conspirators violated CEP rules by holding a March 15, 2018, campaign event at Dolphin’s Cove restaurant in Bridgeport, then engaged in a scheme to trick SEEC into awarding his campaign undeserved CEP grants by making misrepresentations and omissions to disguise the nature of that event.
It is alleged that, although CEP rules imposed a $2,000 limit on Bradley’s expenditure of personal funds, Bradley used personal funds to pay Dolphin’s Cove $5,597.31 for the campaign event, and used personal funds for other campaign expenditures related to the event, including printed invitations and a band.
It is further alleged that, in an attempt to hide the March 15 campaign event from SEEC, Bradley, Martinez and their co-conspirators claimed it was a “Thank You Party” for friends and clients of Bradley’s law firm, Bradley, Denkovich & Karayiannis, P.C., also known as BDK Law Group.
It is alleged that, although at least eight donors gave to Bradley’s campaign at the Dolphin’s Cove event, Bradley’s and Martinez’s co-conspirators altered and falsified the contribution cards so that none were dated March 15, 2018.
It is further alleged that, although CEP rules required complete and truthful disclosures of Bradley’s campaign contributions and expenditures, in April, May and June 2018, Bradley’s campaign filed Itemized Campaign Finance Disclosure Statements with SEEC that omitted that Bradley had held a campaign event on March 15, 2018 at Dolphin’s Cove restaurant, omitted that Bradley had incurred approximately $6,307 in expenses for the event, omitted that Bradley had accepted multiple campaign contributions at the event, and misrepresented the dates of those March 15, 2018 contributions.
It is further alleged that on May 24, 2018, Bradley and Martinez applied for a CEP grant to fund Bradley’s Democratic primary campaign. On July 10, 2018, relying on the false and misleading information contained in Bradley’s filings, SEEC issued the campaign $84,140 in public funds. On August 14, 2018, Bradley won the Democratic primary with approximately 55 percent of the vote.
It is further alleged that, after issuing a CEP primary grant to Bradley, SEEC began investigating a citizen complaint regarding Bradley’s campaign, including the campaign event at Dolphin’s Cove. On August 21, 2018, Bradley emailed a letter to SEEC in which he denied all the allegations in the citizen complaint as “frivolous and manipulative.” In that letter, Bradley falsely stated, “On March 15, 2018, BDK hosted a Client Appreciation event at Dolphin’s Cove restaurant[.] … This was in no shape or form a political event. … In fact, we did not collect any donations at this event and have no donations dated 03/15/2018.”
It is further alleged that on October 12, 2018, after Bradley and Martinez attempted to obtain an additional $95,710 CEP grant to fund Bradley’s general election campaign, Martinez made similar false statements under oath to SEEC. SEEC eventually denied Bradley a general election grant. On November 6, 2018, Bradley won the general election with approximately 87 percent of the vote.
It is further alleged that Martinez made similar false statements to investigating FBI special agents in March 2020, and under oath before the grand jury in September 2020.
Bradley is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five counts of wire fraud, and Martinez is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud, one count of making a false statement to the FBI, and one count of making a false declaration before the grand jury. The conspiracy and fraud offenses carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each count, and the false statement and declaration offenses carry a maximum term of imprisonment of five years on each count.
Acting U.S. Attorney Boyle stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan N. Francis and David E. Novick.