Richard Foley, a GOP chief who taunted the FBI, dies at seventy one

On his strategy to jail in January 1994, the forty four-yr Richard Foley said he knew how his obituary would start: There can be a mention of his provider as a state lawmaker and Republican state chairman, adopted by means of the truth he changed into convicted of taking a bribe.

Dick Foley wasn’t established for flinching. He turned into the blue-collar man who led the state GOP from 1989 to 1992, when Connecticut became a presidential swing state and the birthday party struggled to make a decision if its future changed into in Fairfield County or the submit-industrial Naugatuck Valley.

When it grew to become clear in late 1992 that he become within the crosshairs of the FBI, Foley referred to as a press convention to name the feds bumblers and bureaucrats. “We’re going on offense. Put up or shut up,” Foley referred to. “They picked on the wrong mick.”

The quote ended up on the wall of a semi-secret office the FBI saved for a time in Waterbury, a corruption target. Two years later, Foley was convicted of 4 felonies in reference to $25,000 he accepted from two corrupt businessmen, a developer and a banker.

When requested for an interview before he left for prison, Foley talked about, “Yeah, why now not?”

Foley, 71, changed into discovered useless at his house in Danbury on Saturday. His friend, Ben F. Proto, spoke of Foley’s daughter known as with information of his loss of life. No trigger became instantly evident.

An Irish memory

He got here head-on at pretty plenty every little thing, from politics to prison. He had an Irish memory, continuously remembering friends and foes. He become a state representative, a salesman and a scholar of human conduct.

His conviction became overturned on attraction, and Foley managed a second act in political existence as a lobbyist and crusade consultant. He attempted a comeback last yr, difficult J.R. Romano for state chair of the GOP.

He received and misplaced quite a lot of political bets. In 1991, he became convinced that passage of the profits tax via a Democratic legislature and an impartial governor, Lowell P. Weicker Jr., could be the GOP’s ticket to the majority. It wasn’t.

“I talked with him prior in the week,” spoke of Ben Proto, a Republican insider who joined Foley in the 2018 floor battle on the GOP state convention that led to Steve Obsitnik of Westport acquiring adequate delegate assist to join the birthday party fundamental for governor. “We had been going to have lunch next week. He became a pricey friend. He become the form of man you wanted to have as a pal.”

Proto stated that Foley was steeped in Connecticut’s political heritage and turned into among the many very young Republicans who, in the early Seventies, made up Gov. Thomas Meskill’s “kiddie corps.”

Chris Healy, a former GOP state chairman, pointed out Foley prized — and exuded — loyalty.

“He changed into probably the most-loyal, steadfast person you could find,” Healy observed Saturday. “i’m grief-afflicted as a result of I misplaced one among my choicest friends. You either adored him or hated him, and those of us who adored him, we’d have accomplished the rest for him. He loved to celebrate, and he adored to chuckle on the absurdity of issues. You always ended up laughing all through a dialog with Dick Foley, at some element.”

Foley become blunt, commonly coarse. He had no endurance for the timid or cautious. To them, he would say, “if you want a assure, then purchase a f— refrigerator.”

He can be flippant, but his guidance to candidates searching for tips on considerations of morality was no longer: figure out where you stand; don’t be lovely; your parts will tolerate a principled difference.

He provided himself for example. For 10 years, he represented a conservative and largely Catholic district, however he was extra seasoned-alternative than professional-life in his balloting.

facing time in jail

His criminal troubles came from an affiliation with Richard D. Barbieri Sr. and John A. Corpaci, key figures in a Waterbury corruption scandal. They informed the FBI they had developed a prefer financial institution with politicians as they based a real property and banking business.

To curry favor with a much bigger banking chain, they pointed out they paid Foley $25,000 to aid pass a invoice liberalizing state banking legal guidelines. The story had some holes: Foley, for one, become within the minority. 2d, he voted against the invoice and entreated its defeat.

Foley on no account denied accepting ten $2,500 payments, however he insisted they have been a consulting payment in return for looking for tenants for a business property. He become convicted and sentenced to forty months in jail.

He went to detention center doubtful about profitable his appeal.

Over espresso at an Abdow’s large Boy on the Silas Deane highway in Wethersfield, Foley talked for three hours about reformatory and his expectation he might ought to serve three years before qualifying for a very good-conduct release.

He smoked a cigar, one that he promised could be among his last. He became loud. An aged girl in the subsequent sales space gave him a protracted sideward look, mouth agape.

Foley observed quitting tobacco, losing a few pounds. If he turned into going to lose three years getting into, in all probability he might benefit 5 more on the lower back end by means of clean dwelling.

but he had no illusions about how he would be remembered, besides the fact that he received his attraction.

“In most cases, demise will pay the debt. now not during this one,” he said. “This one you pay after you die. That’s challenging. That’s challenging. however that’s one you gotta accept. That’s the manner it’s going to be.”

Foley served four months in penitentiary, then become freed on bond all the way through his enchantment.

Nineteen months later, a federal appeals court docket voted 2-1 in January 1996 to overturn his conviction, concluding he had been improperly charged under statutes that lined the unlawful acceptance of federal dollars.

Ken Dixon of Hearst Conneticut Media contributed to this document.