Legislators Could Be Called In Donovan-Related Trial

The Hartford Courant

The former finance director of the ill-fated congressional campaign of Christopher Donovan will go to trial on May 13 and his attorney told a federal court judge Monday he may call current legislators as defense witnesses.

Robert Braddock Jr. is one of eight people indicted last summer and charged with being involved in a scheme in which supporters of roll-your-own tobacco stores funneled money into the Donovan campaign in exchange for assurances that proposed legislation to tax the shops would never get before the state House of Representatives.

Braddock, the campaign's out-of-state finance director, was willing to discuss killing the issue with the tobacco representatives and apply their money to the campaign -- after it had been illegally disguised as political contributions from others, according to the indictment. Such conduit contributions they are illegal under federal election law.

The indictment charges that the first $10,000 was provided by owners or investors in the two Waterbury tobacco stores in November and December of last year. The remaining $20,000, in two, $10,000 installments, came from the FBI through an undercover operative posing as a smoke-shop owner.

At least six of Braddock's co-defendants have already plead guilty and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Mattei told U,S, District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton that several of them will likely be testifying against Braddock when the trial opens on May 13. The statements of two unindicted co-conspirators will also be introduced.

Jury selection will be on May 7. Attorneys expect the trial to last until May 24.

Neither Mattei nor defense attorney Frank J. Riccio Jr., who is representing Braddock, revealed whether Donovan will be called as a witness.

But Riccio did say that he expects to call "current and former" members of the House of Representatives as defense witnesses. Ricchio said they would testify about how the legislative session works and how bills are debated and passed.

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