David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that David Moffa, 53, of Middlebury, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven to a federal conspiracy charge stemming from a scheme to direct illegal campaign contributions into the campaign of a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. Moffa is the former president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
Moffa is one of eight people charged in the alleged plot to hide the source of $27,500 in campaign contributions tied to an effort to stop state taxes from increasing on roll-your-own smoke shop owners. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 21. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in August 2011, the state of Connecticut applied for a court order enjoining Roll Your Own (RYO) smoke shops from continuing to operate without complying with state law governing tobacco manufacturers. RYO smoke shops are retail businesses that sell loose smoking tobacco and cigarette-rolling materials and offer customers the option of paying a “rental” fee to insert the loose tobacco and the rolling materials into a RYO machine, which is capable of rapidly rolling large quantities of cigarettes. Customers do not pay a tax on the RYO cigarettes when rolled by the RYO machines, in contrast to cigarettes purchased over-the-counter.
On November 2, 2011, Moffa, RYO smoke shop owners, and others met at Smoke House Tobacco in Waterbury and discussed the possibility that the Connecticut General Assembly would enact legislation harmful to RYO smoke shop owners’ business interests during the 2012 legislative session. Moffa advised the other attendees that another individual, Ray Soucy, could help the RYO smoke shop owners prevent the enactment of harmful legislation. Moffa then called Soucy, and shortly thereafter Soucy arrived at Smoke House Tobacco and joined the meeting. Soucy advised the others that he was a “friend” of a member of the Connecticut General Assembly (“Public Official Number 1”). According to Soucy, Public Official Number 1 could influence whether the anticipated legislation would be enacted. Soucy then engaged in a telephone conversation with Public Official Number 1 for the purpose of arranging a meeting between certain RYO smoke shop owners and Public Official Number 1. The meeting was scheduled for the morning of November 16, 2011 at a restaurant in Meriden. (FBI press release)
On November 30, 2011, Moffa met with Soucy and RYO smoke shop owners at Smoke House Tobacco. During the meeting, MOFFA discussed with the RYO smoke shop owners that they should make a $5,000 contribution to Public Official Number’s 1’s campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives at a fundraising event to be held on December 8, 2011. Moffa volunteered to serve as a conduit contributor in order conceal the fact that the RYO smoke shop owners were actually financing the contributions. On that date, Moffa told one RYO smoke shop owner, “You give me the money, I’ll give you a check.” (Ibid)
At a meeting at Smoke House Tobacco on December 8, 2011, two RYO smoke shop owners provided Moffa with $2,500 in U.S. currency. Moffa then wrote a check for $2,500 in his wife’s name, making it payable to Public Official Number 1’s campaign committee, and provided Soucy with his wife’s biographical information so that Soucy could fill in a contribution envelope provided by the campaign committee. Soucy and the two RYO smoke shop owners then went to the fundraising event, where they delivered two $2,500 contributions, including the contribution in Moffa’s wife’s name to the campaign committee. Following the event, Moffa met the group for dinner.
On approximately January 31, 2012, the campaign committee submitted to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) a report of the campaign committee’s receipts and disbursements for the period October 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011. The report falsely reported that it had received a $2,500 contribution from Moffa’s wife when, in fact, neither Moffa nor his wife had made a contribution to the campaign.
On June 1, 2012, FBI special agents investigating this matter interviewed Moffa. During the interview, Moffa falsely stated that he did not receive any cash in exchange for writing the check to the campaign committee.
On Nov. 2, 2012, Moffa pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to make false statements to the FEC and to impede the FEC’s enforcement of federal campaign finance laws. Judge Arterton has scheduled sentencing for February 21, 2013, at which time Moffa faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.
On July 24, 2012, Harry Raymond “Ray” Soucy pleaded guilty to one count of devising a scheme to bribe a public official and one count of conspiring to make false statements to the FEC and to impede the FEC’s enforcement of federal campaign finance laws. He awaits sentencing.
Six other individuals have been charged as a result of this investigation. As to these defendants, U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.