Middlebury Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Participating in Illegal Campaign Contribution Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office June 12, 2013|
Deirdre M. Daly, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that David Moffa, 53, of Middlebury, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven to 24 months of imprisonment, followed by one year of supervised release, for participating in a scheme to direct illegal contributions into the campaign of a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. Moffa, who is a former president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in August 2011, the state of Connecticut applied for a court order enjoining Roll Your Own (RYO) smoke shops from continuing to operate without complying with state law governing tobacco manufacturers. RYO smoke shops are retail businesses that sell loose smoking tobacco and cigarette-rolling materials and offer customers the option of paying a “rental” fee to insert the loose tobacco and the rolling materials into a RYO machine, which is capable of rapidly rolling large quantities of cigarettes. Customers did not pay a tax on the RYO cigarettes when rolled by the RYO machines, in contrast to cigarettes purchased over-the-counter.
Paul Rogers and George Tirado co-owned Smoke House Tobacco, a RYO smoke shop with two locations in Waterbury. Fearing that the Connecticut General Assembly would enact legislation harmful to RYO smoke shop owners’ business interests during the 2012 legislative session, Rogers, Tirado, Moffa, Harry Raymond “Ray” Soucy, Benjamin Hogan, and others engaged in a scheme to direct conduit contributions into the campaign of Christopher Donovan, a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. At the time, Donovan was also the speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives. As part of the scheme, the co-conspirators recruited multiple individuals to serve as conduit contributors to the campaign. These individuals permitted checks to be written in their own names to the campaign, and certain conspirators reimbursed them with cash, thereby concealing the fact that RYO smoke shop owners were contributing to the campaign.
The investigation revealed that, on November 2, 2011, Moffa, Rogers, and another RYO smoke shop owner met at Smoke House Tobacco in Waterbury, and Moffa advised the other attendees that Soucy could help the RYO smoke shop owners prevent the enactment of harmful legislation. Moffa then called Soucy and, shortly thereafter, Soucy arrived at Smoke House Tobacco and joined the meeting. Soucy stated that he was a “friend” of Donovan’s and could assist in arranging a meeting between RYO smoke shop owners and Donovan.
On November 30, 2011, Moffa met with Soucy, Rogers, and another RYO owner at Smoke House Tobacco. During the meeting, Moffa discussed with the RYO smoke shop owners that they should make a $5,000 contribution to the Donovan for Congress campaign at a fundraising event to be held on December 8, 2011. Moffa volunteered to serve as a conduit contributor in order conceal the fact that the RYO smoke shop owners were actually financing the contributions. On that date, Moffa told the RYO smoke shop owners, “You give me the money, I’ll give you a check.”
At a meeting at Smoke House Tobacco on December 8, 2011, Rogers and another RYO smoke shop owner provided Moffa with $2,500 in U.S. currency. Moffa then wrote a check for $2,500 in his wife’s name to Donovan for Congress and provided Soucy with his wife’s biographical information so that Soucy could fill in a contribution envelope provided by the campaign. Soucy, Rogers, and the other shop owner then went to the fundraising event, where they delivered two $2,500 contributions, including the contribution in Moffa’s wife’s name to the campaign. Following the event, Moffa met the group for dinner.
On approximately January 31, 2012, the Donovan for Congress campaign submitted to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) a report of the campaign’s receipts and disbursements for the period October 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011. The report falsely reported that it had received a $2,500 contribution from Moffa’s wife when, in fact, neither Moffa nor his wife had made a contribution to the campaign.
On June 1, 2012, FBI special agents investigating this matter interviewed Moffa. During the interview, Moffa falsely stated that he did not receive any cash in exchange for writing the check to the Donovan for Congress campaign.
On November 2, 2012, Moffa pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to make false statements to the FEC and to impede the FEC’s enforcement of federal campaign finance laws.
Soucy, Rogers, Tirado, Hogan, Waterbury business owner Daniel Monteiro, and Donovan for Congress campaign manager Joshua Nassi also pleaded guilty to charges related to this scheme and await sentencing. In addition, on May 21, 2013, a jury found Robert Braddock, Jr., the campaign’s finance director, guilty of one count of conspiring to make false statements to the FEC and to impede the function of the FEC, one count of accepting more than $10,000 in federal campaign contributions made by persons in the names of others, and one count of causing a false report to be filed with the FEC. He also awaits sentencing.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher M. Mattei and Eric J. Glover.