Bridgeport councilman pleads guilty to campaign finance fraud, avoids jail time

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Bridgeport City Councilman Ernie Newton avoided jail time by taking a plea deal for campaign finance fraud, officials say.

Newton pleaded guilty Wednesday to three felony campaign finance violations dating back to 2012.

The 63-year-old Democrat admitted to receiving illegal contributions at that time in order to qualify for public financing.

It began when Newton ran for his old seat in the state Senate and applied for those public dollars. Newton says mistakes were made by those around him, though he takes full responsibility for the errors. Still, he says he believes the state targeted him unfairly, spinning what should have been civil infractions into criminal violations.

After seven years of racking up legal bills, Newton says he was simply exhausted from the long battle and took the plea.

Newton says he's giving serious thought to making another run for the state legislature. He says, "Somebody has to go to Hartford and get this thing straight so that what happened to me will never happen to anyone else."

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