The beginning of the end of Gov. John G. Rowland's administration came on Nov. 12, 2002, when a subpoena from federal authorities arrived at his office seeking reams of records involving his former co-chief of staff, Peter N. Ellef.
Federal authorities also were seeking records on three projects -- construction of a juvenile detention facility in Middletown, a juvenile center and court in Bridgeport, and a new garage for Bradley International Airport.
In March 2003, his former deputy chief of staff, Lawrence Alibozek, pleaded guilty to steering those contracts to The Tomasso Group. He is still the only person indicted by federal authorities.
After Alibozek's guilty plea, Rowland said he wasn't worried about getting caught up in the scandal himself. In the months after, federal authorities issued numerous subpoenas seeking records of any state work the Tomassos had done -- from cleaning up state lottery headquarters in the aftermath of a shooting rampage to taking over the state building at the Big E.
But there were still no indications federal authorities were focusing their investigation on the governor. That changed in late November when The Courant ran a story that raised questions about who had done the renovations at the governor's cottage on Bantam Lake in Litchfield.
The story revealed that the building permits seemed to indicate more work was performed than what the governor paid for. The Courant then revealed that FBI agents visited several of the contractors identified in the previous story.
On Dec. 2, Rowland held a press conference in his hometown of Waterbury to discuss the cottage controversy.
Rowland played down the story and said he had paid for all of the renovations himself, including purchasing a hot tub set on the deck at the cottage. He said the cabinets were from Home Depot, not custom-made, and he refused to answer a question about how a New Britain-based heating contractor had come to work at the cottage.
Less than two weeks later Rowland issued a statement acknowledging he had lied about the cottage renovations.
He admitted a staff member had purchased the hot tub, but in an even more damning revelation, he acknowledged some of the state largest contractors had done work at his cottage and either had never been paid or were paid years later -- after The Courant started asking questions about the project.
Among those contractors was William Tomasso, the man at the center of the federal bid-rigging investigation.
Rowland followed those admissions with a televised apology on Jan. 7, in which he somberly admitted he had lied and asked residents to give him another chance.
But his favorable rating in polls plummeted into the 20s. Nearly 70 percent of those polled said he should resign.
Rowland's revelations led the legislature to form an impeachment inquiry committee to investigate whether he should be impeached. Even as the committee hired a New York attorney to conduct an investigation, Rowland was steadfast that he would not resign.
By that time the impeachment committee was not Rowland's only worry. Federal authorities had subpoenaed his personal records and had begun delving into other areas, including the sale of Rowland's Washington D.C. condominium to Woodbury antiques dealer Wayne Pratt.
Pratt pleaded guilty in March 2004 to federal tax charges. Pratt admitted that Robert Matthews, a longtime friend of the governor's, had given him the money to pay for the condominium in June 1997.
While Matthews was orchestrating the purchase of Rowland's condominium, a state agency -- the Connecticut Development Authority -- was giving one of his companies a guaranteed loan worth more than $3 million. Later that same year, CDA gave another of Matthews' companies a $1 million loan.
The condo deal and loans to Matthews became the focal point of the impeachment inquiry committee hearing that started two weeks ago. As the impeachment proceedings slowly moved forward, Rowland still maintained he would not resign.
Then, late last week, the Supreme Court denied his appeal in an attempt to quash a subpoena from the committee to testify before it. The decision left Rowland in the position of having to plead the Fifth to protect his rights in any possible criminal case.
Rowland's Troubles Began Two Years Ago With Subpoena Delivered To His Office About State Contract With Tomasso
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