Former state Sen. Ernie Newton, a convicted felon who served time in federal prison on corruption charges, won the Democratic endorsement Monday night for his old state Senate seat.
Newton defeated the incumbent, Sen.
Gomes, a pro-union Democrat, has served in the Senate since 2006; Ayala has served in the state
In February 2010, four years after he was sentenced on corruption charges, Newton was released from federal prison and transferred to a halfway house in
Newton's release marked the latest chapter in a long-running scandal that culminated in his sentencing for accepting a $5,000 bribe, evading taxes and pilfering campaign contributions to pay for car repairs, personal cellphone calls and other expenses.
Senior U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas criticized Newton at the 2006 sentencing for saying during his resignation speech that he was "the Moses of my people" and for shaking down constituents in his hometown of Bridgeport in return for state funding.
"I don't think there's any reference in the Bible ... that as God led his people for 40 years in the desert that he ever took money from them," Nevas said toward the end of the sentencing hearing.
Saying that he had personal insight into Newton's case from his own career, Nevas mentioned the three terms that he served as a state legislator from Westport before he became a prosecutor and then a federal judge.
"Those were six of the best years of my life," said Nevas. "It is inconceivable to me that anyone who serves in the General Assembly could make a business out of it, and that's what you did. You sold your office."
Newton, a Democrat who served for 17 years in the legislature before resigning in 2005, stood before the judge on his sentencing day and said multiple times that he was sorry. When Newton was finished, Nevas asked him whether he believed in his prior statements that he was being prosecuted because he is African American.
"This is not about black or white," Newton responded. "It's about right or wrong, and I was wrong. Justice has no color. ... This is not about race, but it's about right and wrong. And I'm sorry."
Before issuing the sentence, Nevas said he was pleased that Newton had retracted his statements about his prosecution's being racially motivated.
"That was a despicable thing to say," Nevas told Newton. "It was offensive, and you should have known better."