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Supreme Court rejects appeal of former Connecticut governor

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to disturb the convictions of former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland for conspiring to hide his work for two Republican congressional candidates, several years after he resigned from office and served prison time for corruption.

The 59-year-old Republican argued that contracts he prepared, which federal prosecutors said illegally sought to disguise the nature of his role in the campaigns, were not falsified records.

Rowland was convicted by a federal jury in 2014 of plotting to hide political consulting roles through sham contracts in the failed Connecticut 5th District campaigns of Lisa Wilson-Foley in 2012 and Mark Greenberg in 2010. He reported to prison in September to begin serving a 2½ year sentence.

Rowland's lawyer, Yaakov Roth, and the Connecticut U.S. attorney's office declined to comment Monday. Roth said he had yet to talk with the former governor about the high court's decision.

Rowland was governor from 1995 to 2004 and was considered a rising star in the GOP. He was elected to the U.S. House three times, the first time in 1980 when he was 23. He served as chairman of the Republican Governors Association and was mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate or cabinet member.

But he resigned in 2004 amid a corruption scandal that would send him to prison for 10 months for taking more than $100,000 worth of illegal gifts while in office including private flights to Las Vegas, Vermont vacations and repairs and a hot tub at his vacation cottage.

After prison, Rowland regained some popularity while hosting a talk radio show. But then came a second criminal case.

Authorities said Rowland entered into a contract with a nursing home company run by Wilson-Foley's husband, and that contract was used to hide a $35,000 payment to Rowland for consulting for Wilson-Foley's campaign. Rowland said he volunteered for the campaign and denied the allegations.

Wilson-Foley was sentenced to five months in prison and her husband, Brian Foley, got probation in the case. Foley testified that his wife wanted Rowland's help, but believed his involvement — if made public — would attract negative publicity.

Greenberg, who was not charged, testified that he turned down a similar offer from Rowland in his 2010 campaign.

Rowland was convicted of seven federal charges including conspiracy, falsifying records in a federal investigation and causing illegal campaign contributions. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York rejected his appeal of his convictions last year.

In his brief to the Supreme Court, Rowland said the 2nd Circuit was wrong to uphold his conviction for falsifying documents under the Sarbanes-Oxley anti-fraud law, and wrong to rule that omissions of material facts from contracts were equivalent to lies. Roth, Rowland's lawyer, argued the court's decision also expanded the reach of Sarbanes-Oxley and dozens of other federal laws against false statements.

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