A Waterbury tobacco shop owner pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to charges that he and others conspired to bribe a state legislator in an effort to kill a new tobacco tax at the state Capitol, the Courant\’s Ed Mahony reports.
Paul Rogers, one of eight business, political and union figures indicted in the conspiracy, pleaded guilty in New Haven to charges of fraud and of causing phony reports of campaign contributions to be filed with federal election regulators.
Rogers and the others are accused of bundling illegal campaign contributions and steering them in 2011 and 2012 to the congressional campaign of Christopher Donovan, former Speaker of the state House of Representatives. The payments were part of a failed effort to kill a tax which has effectively eliminated the competitive advantage so-called roll-your-own tobacco stores had over the sellers of packaged cigarettes.
Donovan, a Democrat, denies any knowledge or of involvement in the conspiracy to kill the tax legislation. Neither he nor any other elected public official is charged in the case. The federal investigation remains active, according to legislative and other sources.
Two of those charged in the case are former employees of Donovan’s unsuccessful, 2012 campaign for the Congressional seat in the state’s 5th District . Robert Braddock, Jr. was the Donovan campaign’s finance director and Joshua Nassi was campaign manager.
Donovan was an early favorite to win the 5th district seat, but his campaign sputtered and died after his name surfaced in the alleged conspiracy to kill the tax bill.
Rogers is the third of those indicted in the conspiracy case to plead guilty.