NEW HAVEN, Conn. – John G. Rowland (search), the charismatic former governor who once boldly predicted that a federal corruption investigation would never touch him, was sentenced Friday to a year in prison, completing the collapse of one of Connecticut's most popular political figures.
"I am ashamed to be here today, and I accept full responsibility for my actions," Rowland told U.S. District Judge Peter C. Dorsey (search).
The three-term Republican governor told Dorsey that he lost sight of his ethical judgment and developed a "sense of entitlement and even arrogance," he said. "I let my pride get in my way."
Dorsey sentenced Rowland to a year plus one day in prison, four months of home confinement and three years of supervised release. He ordered Rowland to report to prison on April 1 in Fort Devens, Mass.
"Officials are expected to serve not his own interest or the interest of his friends, but the highest interest of the community," Dorsey said. "Gratuities were accepted as if they were his due."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nora Dannehy urged Dorsey to give Rowland a harsher sentence.
"If that person, John Rowland, is not held accountable, than the people's trust simply isn't that important." Honest government matters, it has to matter. Send that message, send it loud and clear. Without that rule of law, we are all lost."
Rowland, 47, pleaded guilty in December to a corruption charge, admitting that he accepted more than $100,000 in chartered trips to Las Vegas, Vermont vacations and repairs to his lakeside cottage. He resigned from office July 1 in the midst of an impeachment probe.
The corruption probe and a legislative impeachment investigation prompted Rowland to resign in July, ending one of the most storied political careers in Connecticut history.
His plea deal set a sentencing range of 15 months to 21 months in prison, but Rowland is asking for less. Prosecutors say Rowland deserves 30 to 37 months because after deceiving the state for years, he lied to a probation officer about his finances.
Rowland was met at U.S. District Court in New Haven by about 100 protesters, including some chanting "Enron." He arrived about a half-hour before the hearing began on the arm of his wife, Patty and accompanied by other family members. The chants referenced Rowland's involvement in a failed $220 million energy deal between the state and the bankrupt Enron Corp. (search)
Rowland said nothing as he made his way through a crowd of media and into the courthouse.
Once inside the packed courtroom, Rowland took his place at the defense table with his family seated behind him.
Rowland becomes one of more than a dozen former governors to serve prison time and only the second in New England. The first was former Rhode Island Gov. Edward D. DiPrete, who was sentenced to a year in prison in 1998 for bribery, extortion and racketeering.