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Sentencing in Campaign Finance Scandal

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ A former labor union official was sentenced to three years of probation Monday in a scandal involving nearly $28,000 in illegal contributions to former state House Speaker Christopher Donovan’s failed congressional campaign last year.

A federal judge in New Haven ordered Harry Ray Soucy, 61, of Naugatuck, to serve the first six months of probation in a halfway house and fined him $5,000.
One of eight people convicted in the case, Soucy pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud and conspiracy to cause false statements to the Federal Election Commission and to defraud the United States.

Donovan wasn’t charged and denied wrongdoing, but his aides acknowledged the scandal derailed his congressional campaign.

Prosecutors said the scheme involved roll-your-own tobacco shop owners who wanted Donovan, as House speaker, to kill state legislation aimed at increasing taxes on the shop owners. The shop owners gave cash to other people, who then wrote checks to Donovan’s campaign for the 5th Congressional District to hide the fact that the money was from the shop owners _ an illegal practice known as straw donations.

The bill died in last year’s regular legislative session but was approved during a subsequent special session.
Soucy, a former correctional officer, served as vice president of Council 4 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and was treasurer of the union’s Local 2827 for prison guards. He resigned both union jobs shortly before his arrest.
As part of a cooperation agreement with federal investigators, Soucy secretly recorded conversations with Donovan and others.
Soucy’s lawyer had asked the judge for leniency before the sentencing, saying Soucy had no previous criminal record and his ailing 80-year-old mother needs him for care and financial support. The lawyer, Steven Rasile, also cited Soucy’s good deeds, his own health problems and his career as correctional officer in arguments to keep Soucy out of prison.

Donovan’s congressional campaign manager, Joshua Nassi, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and was sentenced to two years and four months in prison. Donovan’s campaign finance manager, Robert Braddock Jr., was convicted last May and sentenced to three years and two months in prison.

Among the others who pleaded guilty were George Tirado and Paul Rogers, two Waterbury men who co-owned a roll-your-own tobacco business, Smoke House Tobacco. Tirado was sentenced to two years and two months in prison. Rogers awaits sentencing.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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