Sunday, January 09, 2005

Homeland Security Scammer

...

Case Of Cash, Influence
What Else The Feds Found ...

January 9, 2005 By EDMUND H. MAHONY, JON LENDER, And DAVE ALTIMARI Hartford Courant Staff Writers

In the weeks leading up to ex-Gov. John G. Rowland's unexpected guilty plea to corruption charges last month, a close aide was giving federal authorities new information that appeared to implicate Rowland more firmly in an alleged racketeering conspiracy operating out of his office.

Vincent DeRosa, a former state trooper and gubernatorial chauffeur whom Rowland elevated to director of homeland security, began providing information to investigators last fall, sources familiar with the case say. The fact that DeRosa, a confidant and near-constant companion of Rowland's for years, was cooperating with authorities is believed to have influenced Rowland's decision to plead guilty.

Some of the information provided by DeRosa appears to link Rowland to the activities of Peter N. Ellef, his former co-chief of staff, and William Tomasso, a New Britain businessman whose companies got millions of dollars worth of state contracts. The two, along with Ellef's son, were indicted in September and accused of running a racketeering enterprise out of Rowland's office involving the steering of state contracts.

Rowland pleaded guilty Dec. 23 to one conspiracy count charging that he received more than $100,000 in gifts and favors from Tomasso and another firm, Key Air of Oxford, in connection with state business. He faces a prison sentence ranging from 15 to 21 months and a fine of up to $40,000 when he returns to federal court for sentencing, now scheduled for March 11.

Sources say DeRosa and others provided investigators with information about the legendary Las Vegas trips by Rowland and some high-rolling pals from the Waterbury area - trips that reportedly involved heavily subsidized gambling by Rowland and encounters with prostitutes.

Sources said DeRosa and possibly other witnesses described those encounters, but would not say when they occurred or who was involved.Reached by telephone, Rowland said any suggestion he was involved with prostitutes is "outrageous" and "absolutely" untrue. He referred further questions to his lawyer, William F. Dow III.

"I won't dignify those claims with a response," Dow said.

"I prefer to act like a lawyer and represent my client. I am unwilling to serve as a sounding board for the media."

The new information provided by DeRosa also includes three transactions that involve Rowland, Tomasso and Key Air, sources say:In 1999, DeRosa told investigators, he was given an attache case containing $8,000 in cash in a state Capitol parking lot by Ellef, then Rowland's co-chief of staff. The money was supposed to cover costs DeRosa incurred in purchasing and restoring a 1967 Ford Mustang as a 42nd birthday present for Rowland, the federal authorities were told.

According to the sources, DeRosa said he encountered Tomasso some time after receiving the attache case. During the encounter, DeRosa said, Tomasso acknowledged providing the money and said more was available if DeRosa needed it.

The report of a cash payment to DeRosa was another twist in the convoluted Mustang story.

The car was initially described as a gift from Rowland's friends, who supposedly contributed to a fund headed by then-Lt. Gov. M. Jodi Rell, now Rowland's successor.

In 2003, however, Rowland told reporters he bought the car for himself after determining that accepting it as a gift would be improper. He said he took out a loan and paid DeRosa $22,000 for the car in two checks. But Rowland did not write those checks until more than four months after DeRosa had registered the vehicle with the Department of Motor Vehicles. When he registered the vehicle, DeRosa claimed Rowland had paid him an $8,000 deposit. Rowland wrote the checks - for $8,000 and $14,000 - to DeRosa on Oct. 30, 1999.

And Rell told state ethics officials she had no recollection of raising money for the Mustang.

Someone apparently collected funds: DeRosa said that at one point he received a $2,000 check from an account called "the Mustang Fund." DeRosa said he returned the money but could not remember to whom.Lawyers for Tomasso and Ellef would not comment for this story.

DeRosa said that during a 1999 visit to a Vermont ski house owned by the Tomassos, Rowland telephoned his office to use his influence to win a construction contract for a Tomasso company, according to sources. The call was made during a visit by Rowland from Feb. 16 to 20; on Feb. 22, TBI Construction Inc. was awarded the contract to build a $37 million parking garage at Bradley International Airport.

The Vermont house figured prominently in a 2003 ethics complaint alleging that Rowland paid steeply discounted rates for two vacations there and one at a Tomasso-owned house in Florida.

Rowland paid more than $5,000 in restitution to settle the complaint.The February 1999 trip to Vermont occurred before the earlier of the vacations that came under ethics commission scrutiny.

The vacations, as well as renovations and other work that William Tomasso arranged at Rowland's summer cottage in Litchfield, also were cited in the criminal charge to which Rowland pleaded guilty last month.

Sources said DeRosa reported overhearing Rowland talking with a principal in Key Air, an air charter company, about using his influence to do a favor for the company. Rowland repeatedly accepted free travel from the company.

As part of his guilty plea, Rowland admitted taking $91,494 in benefits from Key Air for free travel between April 1999 and November 2000. In 2002, at the urging of Rowland's office, state legislators approved a retroactive tax-exemption for Key Air, according to the plea bargain agreement Rowland signed in December. A legislative analysis said the tax break was worth $800,000 immediately and $200,000 a year thereafter.

DeRosa and other witnesses also confirmed for investigators reports that Rowland received money from his gambling pals, sources said. Wealthy friends of Rowland routinely left thousands of dollars in cash for him at the conclusion of card games, some at the governor's mansion in Hartford.

The Courant reported in April that some of Rowland's poker buddies had been subpoenaed by the federal grand jury looking into corruption in state government; according to sources, the players left "significant" sums of money on the card table after play had ended.

It's not clear what role the recent information provided by DeRosa and other witnesses played in Rowland's decision to plead guilty. Dow, Rowland's lawyer, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nora R. Dannehy had conducted off-and-on negotiations for some months, according to sources familiar with the case, and Rowland was believed to be facing imminent indictment if he didn't reach a plea agreement.

But as a likely Rowland indictment approached, sources familiar with the events said Dannehy and Dow found themselves unable to reach common ground and were no longer talking. For reasons that they will not explain, the two parties resumed plea negotiations after DeRosa offered to cooperate with prosecutors and was granted immunity from prosecution by the U.S. attorney's office.

DeRosa, represented by Hartford attorney Hubert J. Santos, was keenly interested in immunity, but the sources said he hoped to find some sort of arrangement that would allow him to avoid ever having to testify against Rowland, his longtime friend and benefactor.

Immunized witnesses are usually required to testify. But when Rowland pleaded guilty, prosecutors no longer had a need to call DeRosa - or anyone else - as witnesses. It is likely, however, that DeRosa will be required to testify for the prosecution if the cases against Ellef and Tomasso go to trial.Rowland and DeRosa have been close friends for years and DeRosa's career flourished after Rowland was elected to the first of his three terms in 1994. At the time, DeRosa was a state police detective involved in Naugatuck Valley narcotics investigations. After the election, Rowland named DeRosa as his official driver and the two became almost inseparable.

Over the years DeRosa helped Rowland obtain a variety of vehicles for his personal use, including motorcycles and a boat.

Early in Rowland's tenure as governor, DeRosa was touched by one of first of the periodic scandals to afflict the administration.

As part of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Defense, DeRosa admitted providing surplus state military gear to Rowland's then-9-year-old son and two of his friends.

At the time, DeRosa told the investigators that he put the gear in the governor's car during a visit Rowland made in September 1996 to the state police warehouse in Meriden. Regulations for the military surplus project, known as Northstar, barred civilians from receiving the equipment, intended solely for law enforcement use.

In August 2001, DeRosa, then a state police sergeant, was promoted to the $120,000-a-year position of deputy commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety. His duties included coordinating security for the governor, lieutenant governor and other state officials, as well as visiting dignitaries.

Rowland later named him the state's first director of homeland security. He retired as the Rowland corruption investigation heated up last year and draws a $70,000 annual pension.

The above came from the Hartford Courant website.

Fair use of copyrighted material

* * * *

My email to incoming Gov. Rell of Connecticut regarding Rowland and corruption

How can there not still be sleaze in the Connecticut Governor’s Office, if former Rowland aids are answering Rell’s phones? (post)

Telling your Attorney to go fuck himself- PRICELESS

A Justice System really has to be corrupt and out of hand for something to actually change

The Death of Shame in America
(O'Reilly of the O'Reilly Factor, Fox News, asks Gov. John G. Rowland to resign Dec. 2003)

* * * *

Can cops rape, rob, beat, and murder with immunity?
(post contains pictures of young adults brutalized by police, and picture of a 1978 Chevrolet Corvette and one of the houses I fixed up from a boarded up condition)

Are their unnamed factions in the US, similar to the KKK?

With rogue judges and their minions, police officers, do we really live in a Democracy? (post)

This blogger's email: stevengerickson@yahoo.com

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The www.freespeech.com links don't go to their original posts anymore. That is too bad.

Monday, September 10, 2007 11:00:00 AM  

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