FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Robert Braddock, a former staffer for former Connecticut Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, has been sentenced to 38 months in prison for participating in an illegal campaign contribution scheme, according to a release.
Braddock directed illegal campaign contributions into Donovan's failed run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012, according to the release. His prison term will be followed by one year of supervised release.
He was convicted in May on one count of conspiring to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission and to defraud the U.S. by impeding 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.
According to the trial evidence, court documents and statements made in court, in August 2011, 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, Harry Raymond “Ray” Soucy, David Moffa, 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.
Braddock, finance director of the Donovan for Congress campaign, and Joshua Nassi, campaign manager, knew that Soucy, Rogers and others opposed legislation that would harm the business interests of the RYO smoke shop owners. In November and December 2011, Rogers, Soucy, Tirado, Moffa, Hogan and others made four $2,500 conduit contributions to the Donovan for Congress campaign.
On April 11, 2012, Soucy, Rogers and an FBI special agent working in an undercover capacity delivered four $2,500 checks in the names of conduit contributors to Nassi and Braddock. On April 23, 2012, Nassi advised Soucy that one of the checks had bounced and Soucy indicated that the contributor had been given cash to deposit. Nassi stated that the campaign needed the check by midnight the following day, and Soucy delivered a replacement check by that deadline. On May 2, 2012, the Campaign submitted a fundraising report to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) stating that the four contributions given in April were from the conduit contributors when, in fact, they were not.
Soucy, Rogers, Nassi, Moffa, Tirado, Hogan and Monteiro each pleaded guilty to charges related to this scheme. On June 12, 2013, Moffa was sentenced to 24 months of imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. The other defendants await sentencing.