NORWALK — House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr. said he is proud of the actions of himself and his staff after a video emerged that showed a union official allegedly attempting to place $5,000 into a refrigerator in Cafero’s legislative office during an FBI sting.
The video was shown Thursday during the federal trial in U.S. District Court in New Haven against a campaign aide to former state House Speaker Chris Donovan. In testimony, Harry Ray Soucy, a former Department of Correction officer and union official, said he left $5,000 in cash in Cafero’s office, but that the money was returned.
Cafero told The Hour on Friday that Soucy asked for a cold drink and went to the refrigerator and placed an envelop inside. Cafero said he told Soucy that is not the way donations are made and demanded that Soucy take the envelop outside of the legislative office and give it to a Republican House staff member. When the staff member returned and Cafero discovered it was $5,000 in cash, Cafero made the staffer drive to a restaurant in Waterbury to return the money. Cafero said the staff member missed a law school class in order to return the money that day. Cafero said he also instructed the staff member to send an e-mail to Soucy explaining the proper way to make a contribution to a Republican committee.
The video, which is now on YouTube and The Hour’s website, was filmed by an FBI informant and Soucy was being used to try to catch legislators in the act of receiving bribes, according to Cafero. The video, both visually and auditorily, is rather unclear, but at one point Cafero is heard saying: “No, no, no.”
“I’m very proud of my staff and proud that we did the right thing,” Cafero said. “I take very seriously the proper procedure. I take solace in the fact that the FBI said I did nothing wrong and my staff is not a target of investigation. They thanked me for my cooperation.”
Soucy later sent Cafero five $1,000 checks. The FBI told Cafero he could keep that money for a Republican committee, but Cafero returned that money as well.
“I’m not sure if that money is tainted,” Cafero said. “I told them (FBI), with all due respect, I can not accept any check of a tainted origin.”
Cafero may have been given the OK by the FBI, but the entire situation left a bad taste in his mouth.
“It’s ugly and seedy what went on,” he said. “It’s a disgusting and upsetting experience.”
The meeting with Soucy took place on March 14, 2012.
Soucy visited Cafero’s office under the guise of discussing a tax potentially levied on roll-your-own cigarette establishments. Cafero knew Soucy previously as a union leader and Department of Correction officer.
Soucy brought two other men with him to the meeting and introduced them as being in the roll-your-own cigarette industry.
Cafero questioned Soucy why a corrections officer would want to discuss the topic and Soucy said he was thinking of opening a roll-your-own business, according to Cafero.
After the meeting, Soucy asked Cafero if he had anything to drink and walked toward the refrigerator.
Cafero said Soucy then told him that “my guys” want to make a contribution to a Republican Political Action Committee, then proceeded to try to put an envelop in the refrigerator.
Cafero stopped him and told him to meet one of his staff members across the street as contributions may not be accepted in the legislative office.
Cafero assumed Soucy meant fellow corrections officers when Soucy said “my guys.”
He did not think the contribution was on behalf of the roll-your-own cigarette lobby.
“I thought it was a very clumsy way to try to make a contribution,” he said.
Cafero said Soucy’s testimony that he left $5,000 in Cafero’s refrigerator is an “absolute lie.