A former clerk for the legislature’s Commerce Committee – who was also a bouncer at an East Hartford topless club – was sentenced Wednesday for selling cocaine to undercover agents last year at the strip club.
Jonathan McDonald, 28, of Waterbury, also worked as a disc jockey at Kahoots in East Hartford when he was arrested on drug charges. He will serve 13 months in prison under his sentence after pleading guilty to possession of narcotics with intent to sell.
McDonald, who was also sentenced to three years probation, had earlier worked on the political campaign of Democratic state Rep. Jeffrey Berger of Waterbury.
The Hartford Courant’s David Moran reports as follows:
McDonald and another employee of the club, Renaldo Byrd, were arrested after selling the drugs to the undercover officers in April of last year. The terms of McDonald’s probation state that he must undergo drug counseling and screening and cannot possess narcotics or firearms.
According to court documents, McDonald bragged to undercover East Hartford police officers who were investigating complaints against the club that he worked for the Commerce Committee on the first floor of the state Capitol and told the undercover officers that he could supply them with cocaine, marijuana, prescription painkillers and an AR-15 assault rifle.
At one point during the undercover investigation, according to sworn affidavits provided by the arresting officers, McDonald told an officer that he was outside the State Capitol earlier that day smoking a “blunt” while President Obama was visiting. Obama never visited the Capitol.
McDonald sold cocaine to the undercover officers on two occasions at the East Hartford club, according to affidavits, and told them that he would act as the “middle man” to help them purchase an AR-15 assault rifle from Byrd.
McDonald worked on a part-time basis as an assistant clerk for the commerce committee of the General Assembly during last year’s session.
Prior to his job at the Capitol, McDonald worked on the re-election campaign of state Rep. Jeffrey Berger, D-Waterbury, who recommended him to House Democrats for the clerk job. Berger also wrote a letter to the judge in the case on McDonald’s behalf. Berger could not be reached for comment.
In a letter that he wrote to the judge explaining his actions, McDonald said an earlier addiction to painkillers due to several knee surgeries led to his addiction to cocaine. McDonald wrote that he only sold the cocaine to the undercover officers so that he could take some himself. He said the use of the drug had “increased dramatically” during the time he worked at Kahoots.
“When the session ended and I was left without a steady job, I found myself feeling lost,” McDonald wrote. “I had just successfully run a political campaign and worked on the first floor of the Capitol building for four months. Now I was working two nights a week as a strip DJ with no job prospects.”
Kahoots has been closed since shortly after McDonald and Byrd’s arrests in 2013. Byrd pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess drugs with intent to sell in September of 2013 and was sentenced to one year in prison.
In his letter, McDonald wrote that he has completed two drug prevention programs since his arrest and had not used drugs in five months. He called his arrest an “extremely humbling experience” that has caused him to rethink his life and expressed “shame” at trying to broker a gun deal after witnessing parents of the Sandy Hook victim’s grief firsthand while he worked at the Capitol.
“I look back at the person who is charged with these crimes and see someone who is lost, depressed, drug addicted and unrecognizable from the person I was before and the man I am now,” McDonald wrote.