Guilty plea entered in state senate election fraud case

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — A former campaign worker for a Connecticut state senator pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges that she conspired to fraudulently obtain public funds for the senator’s 2018 legislative campaign.

Tina Manus, 42, of Stratford, worked on the campaign of Democratic Sen. Dennis Bradley, who is awaiting trial on charges that his campaign ran a scheme to make it look as though he qualified for funds to which he was not entitled.

Manus pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and has agreed to cooperate in the investigation. She is free on a $150,000 bond while awaiting sentencing.

Bradley, who represents Bridgeport and Stratford, and his former campaign treasurer, Jessica Martinez, were both indicted in May and have pleaded not guilty. They are awaiting trial.

Connecticut passed a law in 2005 that created a voluntary system in which legislative and statewide candidates receive public funds to run their campaigns so long as they agree to strict rules about spending and fundraising.

They must collect a specific number of small contributions — $5 to $100 — from individuals, including many living in their districts, to qualify for the program and receive grants for their campaigns. Contributors cannot be lobbyists, or current or prospective state contractors, or their family members. The state sets a $2,000 limit on the expenditure of personal funds.

Bradley, among other things, is alleged to have used personal funds to pay a venue $5,597 for a campaign event, and used personal funds for other campaign expenditures related to the event, including printed invitations and a band.

Prosecutors said that in an attempt to hide that event from elections enforcement officials, the campaign promoted it as a party for friends and clients of Bradley’s law firm and altered the dates on contribution cards obtained at the party.

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