Prison For Smoke Shop Owners In Campaign Scheme
By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN Associated Press
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ A former police detective who co-owned a smoke shop was sentenced Wednesday to more than two years in prison for his participation in a scheme to direct illegal campaign contributions to the failed congressional campaign of former state House Speaker Christopher Donovan.
George Tirado, 36, of Wolcott, was sentenced in federal court in New Haven to 26 months and fined $5,000, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Tirado, a Waterbury police detective at the time of the offense who co-owned the Waterbury smoke shop, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge.
Prosecutors say eight defendants who have been convicted were involved in a scheme that funneled nearly $28,000 to Donovan’s campaign through straw donors in an effort to get Donovan to kill proposed legislation to raise taxes on roll-your-own cigarette shops.
Donovan was not charged and has denied knowing about the scheme.
“A substantial prison term is warranted for any individual who violates federal campaign finance laws in order to influence elected officials for personal gain,” said acting U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly. “That this defendant was a veteran police detective who ignored his oath and broke the law makes this sentence even more appropriate.”
Tirado’s attorney said in court papers that he often put his life at risk as a police officer and was able to solve Waterbury’s most notorious homicides and violent crimes. He called Tirado’s conduct in the scheme an aberration.
Later Wednesday, 34-year-old Benjamin Hogan of Southington, a part-owner of a smoke shop, was sentenced to 21 months in prison and fined $5,000 for participating in the scheme. He also pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge.
Hogan’s attorney said he played a minimal role in the scheme.
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