Naugatuck contributors’ gifts returned

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HARTFORD — New developments have revealed another Naugatuck connection to a federal criminal investigation into political fundraising.

Three political action committees under the control of Connecticut House Republicans returned checks received from two Naugatuck contributors in late May and early June.

Two of the PACs returned contributions received from Anne Soucy, of 158 May St., and Walter F. Dambowsky, of 35 Moonlight Circle, according to newly filed finance reports.

A caucus spokesman reported that the other committee had returned checks from Soucy and Dambowsky that had not been cashed or deposited.

On June 1, House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. (R-142) announced that the FBI had advised him that these contributions may have been made with funds from a government operation. He stated five checks totaling $5,000 would be returned because of their questionable origin.

The announcement came one day after federal prosecutors announced the arrest of the former finance director of House Speaker Christopher Donovan’s congressional campaign. The investigation is ongoing.

Donovan is the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate in the 5th District.

As Donovan’s finance director, federal authorities say Robert Braddock Jr. conspired with others to use straw contributors to conceal the origin of $17,500 in contributions to the Meriden lawmaker’s campaign.

Another $2,500 went to the state Democratic Party. The Democratic State Central Committee has returned the money.

The money reportedly came from an undercover FBI agent posing as an opponent of legislation that would require roll-your-own tobacco shops to obtain a state license and charge customers the same taxes that apply to prepackaged cigarettes.

The Donovan campaign received the $17,500 in April during a fundraising push in advance of the Democratic nominating convention in May. The suspect contributions to the three Republican PACs were also made in April.

Sources say one of the go-betweens used to funnel the straw contributions to Donovan was Ray Soucy, a union leader and an employee of the Department of Correction.

He shares the same address in Naugatuck as Anne Soucy. Sources identified her as his mother. A reporter visiting the house Tuesday afternoon in search of Anne Soucy was told “no comment” by Ray Soucy, who then shut the door.

Dambowsky declined comment Tuesday when contacted at Bantam Superior Court, where he works as an investigator for the public defenders office.

On May 31, the House Republican Campaign Committee refunded a $1,000 contribution received from Anne Soucy, according to its latest quarterly finance report. The caucus PAC also returned $1,000 received from Dambowsky on the same date.

Additionally, the New Horizons PAC returned a $1,000 contribution from Dambowsky on June 11, according to its quarterly filing. Cafero is the committee’s chairman. It was the only individual contribution that the committee received.

Those are the only contributions that the two PACs refunded during the April-to-July fundraising quarter.

Cafero also chairs the New Friends PAC. This committee returned a check for $1,000 that Anne Soucy wrote and another one in the same amount from Dambowsky, said Patrick O’Neil, a spokesman for the House Republicans. He said the checks were not deposited.

Soucy and Dambowsky each made $1,000 contributions to the House Republican Campaign Committee on April 5. He wrote a $1,000 check to the New Horizons PAC on April 10. It was the only individual contribution the committee received for the quarter. O’Neil did not have dates for the contributions to the New Friends PAC.

Republicans opposed the legislation concerning roll-your-own tobacco shops that was still pending at that time. The measure stalled in the final days of the regular session because of Republican opposition.

The Democratic-controlled legislature passed the licensing and tax requirements in a special session last month. No Republicans voted for that legislation.

Dambowsky is a well-known community figure in Naugatuck.

In 2010, he won the borough’s prestigious Franklin Johnson Sr. Citizenship Award. He is also vice chairman of the Naugatuck Veterans Council and a justice of the peace.

Currently, Dambowsky earns a $5,000 stipend as Naugatuck’s emergency management director. He has held the post since 2004. He is a former dispatcher for the Naugatuck Fire Department. He is also a former borough police commissioner, and he is currently an auxiliary state trooper.

Dambowsky has also been active in the local Republican Party. He served as campaign manager for former Mayor Ronald S. San Angelo, who appointed him emergency management director. He is a member of the Naugatuck Republican Town Committee.

Dambowsky was a manager at the Peter Paul candy factory until it left the borough five years ago.

He started working as an investigator for the Division of Public Defenders Services on Jan. 27, according to the state comptroller’s office. His annual salary is $51,320.

Anne Soucy is retired, according to the finance reports. The filings do not indicate her former occupation or employer.