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For a second time, former Connecticut Sen. Newton convicted of criminal charges

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HARTFORD, Connecticut — Former state Sen. Ernest Newton II was found guilty Friday of three counts of campaign finance fraud related to his unsuccessful bid two years ago to return to the Senate.

The case marked the second criminal verdict against 58-year-old Newton, who gave up his Senate seat in 2005 before being sentenced to five years in prison for taking a $5,000 bribe.

The Hartford Superior Court jury cleared the Bridgeport Democrat of witness tampering, but could not reach a verdict on four remaining charges, including two counts of first-degree larceny.

Newton, who had pleaded not guilty to the charges, is to be sentenced March 13.

Prosecutors say the former lawmaker submitted false documentation to obtain more than $80,000 in state public campaign funds for his 2012 campaign to win back his old Senate seat. They say Newton had five campaign workers sign forms erroneously reporting they each contributed $100 so he could qualify to receive matching state funds.

An arrest warrant said Newton submitted the bogus documentation because he was $500 short of the $15,000 in private contributions he needed to qualify.

Newton's attorney, Darnell D. Crosland, urged the jury to focus on inconsistencies in the stories of the five workers, arguing they could not find Newton guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutor Kevin Shay called the inconsistencies minor and said it was "crystal clear" the five people were working for Newton when they were asked to fill out the contribution cards and were told "they didn't need to worry about the money."

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