NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- The fired campaign aide to Connecticut House Speaker Chris Donovan is facing up to 12 years in federal prison in that illegal campaign contribution scandal.
Robert Braddock pleaded not guilty to three counts in federal court in New Haven Thursday afternoon in connection with thousands of dollars in alleged illegal contributions to Donovan's congressional campaign.
Braddock remains free on $100,000 bond and is scheduled to go on trial in early September.
He was arrested on May 30th and promptly fired along with two other campaign aides by Donovan. He was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on three counts for attempting to disguise thousands of dollars in campaign contributions, allegedly from contributors seeking to kill that proposal to impose state taxes on roll your own cigarette operations.
That bill passed in special session, but the indictment alleges that Braddock was implying to those campaign contributors that the bill could be killed by Donovan.
Thursday Braddock's lawyer appeared to be hedging on whether or not his client is cooperating in an effort to get a plea deal.
"Mr. Braddock's not guilty plea was accepted today," said attorney Frank Riccio II, "from this point forward we simply go through the evidence once we obtain it and determine what steps are next."
"Do you anticipate going to a full trial in September," asked News 8's Mark Davis.
"At this point it's simply too early to anticipate that," Riccio said, "at this point, unless you hear different, there will be a trial."
While the Speaker of the House has not been accused of any crimes it leaves an enormous dark cloud over his campaign for Congress in the 5th District, just 34 days before he faces two opponents in the Democratic primary.
So far, the only allegation in the indictment directly linking the House Speaker to anyone in the conspiracy is a meeting at a Meriden restaurant in November of last year where the roll your own cigarette tax legislation was discussed by Donovan, Braddock and two men who eventually made large cash contributions to Donovan's congressional campaign.
The indictment says that Braddock received $10,000 in illegal campaign contributions on the night of the 5th Congressional District Democratic Convention on May 14th in Waterbury: the night Donovan won the party endorsement for the 5th Congressional District seat.
So even if Donovan wins the Primary, he could be called into federal court to testify in the midst of the Fall campaign.
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