March 20, 2017

U.S. Supreme Court rejects Rowland appeal on fraud conviction

The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected the latest appeal from ex-Gov. John G. Rowland on his 2014 election fraud criminal conviction.

The justices today effectively denied Rowland's claim that federal prosecutors used improper tactics to gain a conviction for conspiring to hide his work on political campaigns for two Republican congressional candidates.

Rowland's lawyer, Jacob M. Roth, had argued that prosecutors had improperly used an anti-financial fraud law enacted in 2002 to gain a conviction for his attempt to gain illegal payments for campaign advice.

Rowland was convicted in 2014 for unlawfully creating two sham contacts to circumvent campaign finance laws.

Rowland filed the latest petition in December, and Edwin S. Kneedler, deputy solicitor general, replied in February, urging the court to dismiss the appeal.

The Justice Department also is contesting another Rowland claim that a federal circuit court's interpretation of the disputed anti-fraud law conflicts with rulings in three other circuit courts.

Four of the nine justices must vote to accept a case. Currently, there are only eight justices due to a vacancy.

In their petition, Rowland and his lawyers contend that contractual commitments aren't factual, true or false statements, and that omitting material from a statement is not an actual lie.

It refutes the prosecution's use of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which limits creation of counterfeit or forged documents.

Rowland argued that the contracts he prepared that sought to disguise the nature of his work were not falsified records, under that law.

The Justice Department argued that the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was correct in rejecting Rowland's appeal last year, and that any further review was "unwarranted."

Rowland was convicted of five felonies and two misdemeanors following his attempt to get paid by Republican candidates Mark Greenberg and Lisa Wilson-Foley for advice on their races for the 5th Congressional District in 2010 and 2012.

Rowland served as governor from 1995 to 2004, when he resigned and was sentenced to prison in a different corruption scandal. He is currently serving a 2-year sentence for the latest conviction.

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