Friday, February 3, 2006
Former Connecticut state Senator Ernest Newton received a five-year prison term after pleading guilty to bribery, tax evasion, and honest services fraud charges. Former Connecticut Governor John Rowland was sentenced to a year-and-a-day for accepting over $100,000 in gifts, while Newton received a much more substantial sentence based on his guilty plea to accepting a $5,000 bribe -- which was not reported on his taxes, not surprisingly -- and taking campaign contributions for personal use. Newton's attorney requested a sentence of home confinement, which in the current political environment was quite unlikely.
Regarding the disparity between the Rowland and Newton sentences, a Hartford Courant article (here) notes that the U.S. Attorney stated the government had sought a longer term for Rowland, and that Newton plead guilty to three charges and Rowland only one, although the number of counts of conviction usually does not affect the prison term that much. The two were sentenced by different judges, and Senior U.S. District Judge Nevas stated in sentencing Newton that his own political experience in the state legislature informed his view of the harm caused by Newton. Still, a former governor receiving a year and a state senator receiving five years for roughly comparable corruption is hard to explain. (ph)