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Former Connecticut state Sen. Newton gets 6 months in prison on 2nd criminal conviction

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HARTFORD, Connecticut — Former state Sen. Ernest Newton II, a twice-convicted Bridgeport politician, was sentenced Friday to six months behind bars for campaign fraud committed as he attempted a political comeback following his release from prison.

Newton was sentenced in Hartford Superior Court on three counts of fraud related to his unsuccessful 2012 bid to return to the Senate. The judge said he could remain free as he pursues an appeal.

During the campaign Newton said he had learned from past mistakes. Newton, a longtime Democratic representative of an impoverished section of Bridgeport who fought off drug addiction to become a legislative leader, cast himself as a champion of the poor.

"Everybody in the world has made mistakes in their life. You learn from your mistakes, but one bad deed ought not outweigh all the good I've done for the city," Newton told The Associated Press during the campaign.

In January 2013, after losing in his comeback bid, Newton was charged with falsely obtaining $80,000 in state public campaign funds. Prosecutors said Newton had five campaign workers sign forms erroneously reporting they each contributed $100 so he could qualify to receive matching state funds.

Newton gave up his Senate seat in 2005 before being sentenced to five years in prison for taking a $5,000 bribe and misusing campaign contributions for personal expenses.

He had served 17 years in the General Assembly before giving up the 23rd Senate District seat. Newton, who was known for his colorful suits and matching shoes, also has admitted he had a cocaine and crack habit and sought treatment in 1995.

The jury that convicted Newton in January cleared him of a witness tampering charge but could not reach a verdict on four other charges, including two counts of first-degree larceny.

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