A defendant in the scandal surrounding former Connecticut Speaker of the House Christopher Donovan's congressional campaign pleaded guilty Wednesday to providing false statements to federal authorities.
Daniel Monteiro, 33, appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Janet Arterton. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced on June 12.
The indictment charged Monteiro with being part of the conspiracy to pump money into Donovan's campaign in exchange for promises from some of Donovan's aides that they would work to kill a bill to tax roll-your-own cigarette shops. It describes Monteiro discussing finding conduit contributors with Paul Rogers, one of the co-owners of the two Waterbury smoke shops.
Monteiro acknowledged to the court Wednesday that he knew he would be reimbursed for a $2,500 donation he made to Donovan's campaign.
Rogers, 40, one of eight business, political and union figures indicted in the conspiracy, pleaded guilty in January to charges of fraud and of causing phony reports of campaign contributions to be filed with federal election regulators.
Rogers and the others are accused of raising $27,500 in campaign contributions, disguising the source of the money and steering it in 2011 and 2012 to the congressional campaign of Donovan.
The payments were part of a failed effort to kill a tax, which has eroded the competitive advantage roll-your-own tobacco stores had over the sellers of packaged cigarettes, authorities have said.
Monteiro did not have a financial interest in and roll-your-own cigarette shops, said his lawyer, Michael Fitzpatrick.
"He simply wrote the check out of friendship to Paul Rogers," Fitzpatrick said.
Asked about the implication that Monteiro would get some consideration in exchange for writing the check, Fitzpatrick said, "I would think most citizens would think if you make a donation to a politician you're currying favor with him."
Fitzpatrick said, "He's really a kindhearted guy who's gotten himself caught up in one hell of a mess."
Fitzpatrick said it appears that the facts of the case would have his client facing a maximum of 36 months behind bars. In the plea agreement, Monteiro agreed not to appeal a sentence of 24 months or fewer.
"However," he said, "there's a strong case to be made that he's deserving of a far less sentence because of his exemplary background and character."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Mattei said the government used audio and video tapes to make the case against Monteiro.
Donovan, a Democrat, denies any knowledge of or involvement in the conspiracy to kill the tax legislation. Neither he nor any other elected public official is charged in the case. The federal investigation remains active, according to legislative and other sources.
Two of those charged in the case are former employees of Donovan's unsuccessful 2012 campaign for Congress from the state's 5th District. Robert Braddock, Jr. was the Donovan campaign's finance director and Joshua Nassi was campaign manager.
Donovan was an early favorite to win the 5th District seat, but lost a primary to Elizabeth Esty, who later won the general election.
Harry Raymond Soucy, a former state prison guard and officer in the labor union that represents the guards, pleaded guilty to fraud and a campaign-reporting violation in July after agreeing to cooperate with authorities investigating the conspiracy. David Moffa, another former officer in the prison guard union, pleaded guilty in November to conspiring to cause a false campaign report.
The indictment in the case charges that the roll-your-own businessmen feared that the proposed tax increase threatened the tens of thousands of dollars they had recently invested in cigarette-rolling machines.
Moffa directed the tobacco retailers to Soucy, who introduced them to Donovan's campaign staff, according to the indictment. Donovan's campaign aides are accused of participation in the conspiracy. But the indictment does not assert that Donovan was aware of it.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun