Middlebury Man Involved in Illegal Campaign Contribution Scheme Sentenced
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 08, 2014|
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Paul Rogers, 41, of Middlebury, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven to six months of imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release, for his role in a scheme to direct illegal contributions into the campaign of a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. Rogers 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.
Rogers owned 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 and others engaged in a scheme to direct conduit campaign 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. Rogers and his co-conspirators recruited multiple individuals to serve as conduit contributors to the campaign. These individuals wrote checks to the campaign in their own names, and Rogers and his co-conspirators reimbursed them with cash, thereby concealing the fact that RYO smoke shop owners were contributing to the campaign.
In November and December 2011, participants in the scheme made four $2,500 conduit contributions to the Chris Donovan for Congress campaign. On approximately January 31, 2012, the campaign submitted to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) a report of campaign committee’s receipts and disbursements for the period October 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011. The report falsely stated the source and amount of the four $2,500 contributions that were received and deposited by the campaign committee during that time period.
Rogers and others subsequently directed an additional $17,500 in conduit contributions to the Donovan for Congress Campaign, as well as a conduit contribution in the amount of $2,500 to a political party.
On January 23, 2013, Rogers waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty to one count of devising a scheme to bribe a public official and one count of conspiring to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and to impede the FEC’s enforcement of federal campaign finance laws.
Seven other individuals, including two employees of the Donovan for Congress campaign, have also been convicted of charges stemming from this scheme.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher M. Mattei and Eric J. Glover.