Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Whistleblower's Tale

It’s going to be difficult for the usual chatterers to make merry with Christine Ragaglia’s difficulties. True, she’s a Republican, and its always open season on Republicans in Connecticut. But she is also a woman who helped prosecutors put a nail in the devil’s tail. The Rowland prosecution likely would not have been possible without her grand jury testimony.

That testimony, put under seal by prosecutors, has now, thanks to some anonymous leaker, become public property. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, according to an Associated Press report, is promising to “recover millions lost to Rowland-era corruption.”

Connecticut’s attorney general, who relies on co-operative witnesses and whistleblowers to secure his convictions, has vowed to “seek relief tailored to the individuals like Ragaglia and others who have betrayed the public trust.” The associated press reporter who was given access both to the sealed -- now, obviously unsealed -- grand jury testimony, as well as Ragaglia’s much sought after diary, wryly remarks in the AP report, “Because of grand jury secrecy, however, Ragaglia's 2004 testimony hasn't been filed in the state case.”

Perhaps Blumenthal can get the information he needs to prosecute Ragaglia, a federal informant, from the AP reporter who filed the story – and never mind that the publication of sealed grand jury information may make co-operating witnesses less likely to divulge information to prosecutors in future cases involving political corruption in Connecticut.

It is not yet known whether Blumenthal is seeking to recover funds from Regaglia’s former boss, Larry Alibozak, the sleezball whose grand jury testimony helped to drive a stake through former Governor John Rowland’s heart.

It’s difficult to predict at this remove what bit part some future Pulitzer Prize winning reporter – There are probably dozens of them banging away at computer terminals as I write -- will assign to Ragaglia. From the little that is know so far, she appears to be a woman more sinned against than sinning. Apparently, she suffered from an alcoholic problem, doubtless brought on by Alibozak’s attentions. And, of course, Rowland’s chief aide Peter Ellef and William Tommasso, both recently sentenced for peculation and incurable stupidity, would drive a saint to drink.

Like Mark Twain, Ragaglia told the truth mainly, when put upon her oath. She kicked both Rowland and Alibozak in the groin and shed her alcoholic problem along the way. According to reports I’ve heard from accomplished state fraud investigators, Ragaglia acquitted herself well as Connecticut’s chief fraud investigator and actually managed to facilitate the creation of programs that will save the state some money. Please note: Agency heads that are workaholics and save the state pennies almost always are forced to walk the plank by career leeches hungry for larger budgets. It’s just the way the state generally does business: What you don’t spend in 2006, you will not receive in 2007, and blessed are they who get and spend. Penny pinchers routinely are tossed overboard.

Of course, it is always possible that media folk on the prowl for past Rowland associates to put in their journalistic tumbrels may discover that some of Rowland’s associates were victims rather than perpetrators of a political corruption that appears to have been limited only to Republicans and Ernie Newton. Democrats never steer building projects to their friends and political associates; they never get tipsy; they do not keep diaries; they never go on junkets; they are masterful at warding off the baneful influences of political contributors; they have nothing to fear from federal prosecutors – and certainly they have nothing to fear from fellow Democrat Dick Blumenthal.

So, now the guillotine requires another warm body – this time Regaglia. If you crane your neck over the Democratic crowd of joyous onlookers, you will see her approaching the contraption in the tumbrel, hands tied behind her back, suitably disgraced, soon to get what is due her. It will all be over in a moment. It is no matter to justice that she has co-operated with her judges. Her foot will touch the stair. The blade will be drawn up; an anticipatory silence will follow – and then the crowd will emit a squeal of delight.

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