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US prosecutors seek delay on action against Rowland

HARTFORD -- Federal prosecutors have asked the State Ethics Commission to postpone action on a complaint against Governor John G. Rowland until after a federal criminal investigation is complete, the Ethics Commission's executive director said yesterday.

The commission received the request from assistant US attorney Nora Dannehy, the lead prosecutor in the federal corruption probe, Ethics Commission executive director Alan Plofsky said during a commission meeting yesterday. Rowland is a subject of the federal investigation that has been looking into contract steering in his administration.

The commission had been asked to look into the legality of gifts and favors Rowland has admitted accepting from employees and state contractors.

Plofsky said last week that no state official is allowed to take gifts valued at more than $100 from any subordinate or contractor. A hearing had been scheduled yesterday on a request by House Majority Leader James A. Amann, a Milford Democrat, to clarify the law's gift provision. But that request was tabled yesterday until Feb. 13 at the request of Rowland's attorneys. Plofsky then informed the committee of the request to postpone action on the more specific complaint against Rowland.

Plofsky said he would recommend that the commission agree to that federal request. Meanwhile, the Legislature's investigation, which may lead to impeachment of Rowland, is slated to begin this month with a special session of the House of Representatives to appoint a committee of inquiry. The session is scheduled for Jan. 26.

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