State official makes a deal to avoid prosecution


NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A state official who helped send former Gov. John G. Rowland to prison in a corruption case told a federal grand jury that she received many of the same expensive hotel getaways, lavish dinners and limousine rides that were used to bribe the governor’s office.

Yet Kristine Ragaglia made a deal for her testimony that spared her from prosecution, allowing her to keep the $104,000-a-year state job she now has investigating government fraud. She still faces a civil case brought by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, and he said yesterday he was determined to go after “Ragaglia and others who have betrayed the public trust.”

Through sealed grand jury transcripts, FBI reports and personal diaries examined by The Associated Press, Ragaglia detailed how she took the luxuries while head of the state Department of Children and Families and helped steer a $57 million detention center contract to a developer who had provided gifts to Rowland.

Ragaglia, who ran the child protection agency from 1997-2003, testified that she sometimes wrote letters or placed phone calls to push the project along. Other times, she said, she just looked the other way.

All the while, the documents indicate, she carried on an affair with her supervisor in rooms given free at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria and Boston’s Ritz-Carlton hotels. And though she said she never drank on the job, she acknowledged battling an alcohol problem so bad it has caused lingering memory problems.

Asked to comment Sunday night, Ragaglia declined to say why she didn’t come forward when she suspected the deal was being fixed. But she noted that her cooperation helped send corrupt officials to prison.

“I did my part to make it right,” she told the AP.

Federal authorities agreed not to use Ragaglia’s 2004 grand jury testimony about the Rowland administration against her.

Ragaglia, a 44-year-old former assistant attorney general, left the child protection agency in 2003 amid the FBI’s burgeoning investigation. She was hired later that year – about six months before Rowland’s resignation – by the state’s Department of Social Services as head of the fraud unit.