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    Monday, August 08, 2022

    Federal grand jury looking into State Pier, school projects

    New London — A federal grand jury has issued a subpoena for documents involving Kostantinos “Kosta” Diamantis, the former head of state school construction project grants who was picked by Gov. Ned Lamont to oversee the Connecticut Port Authority’s State Pier project.

    The subpoena was issued on Oct. 20, shortly before Diamantis was placed on leave from his position as deputy secretary in the Office of Police and Management during probe of the hiring of his daughter Anastasia for a state position in the Division of Criminal Justice.

    Diamantis had been both the deputy secretary of the OPM and director of the Office of School Construction Grants and Review and had been involved in the approval process of New London’s $150 million school construction budget. He retired following his suspension.

    The subpoena, obtained by The Day on Wednesday as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, reveals that the FBI requested all electronic communications starting from Jan. 1, 2018, involving Diamantis and “(1) the planning, bidding, awarding, and implementation (including the construction process) of school construction projects; (2) the planning, bidding, awarding and implementation of hazardous materials abatement projects; and (3) the Connecticut State Pier infrastructure improvements project.”

    A grand jury subpoena is used by the federal government to gather evidence as part of an investigation. The focus of the investigation remains unclear.

    Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie first raised questions on Oct. 1 about Chief State's Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr.'s hiring of Anastasia Diamantis, at the same time Colangelo was petitioning Anastasia's father and other officials for raises for himself and other prosecutors.

    The report from a separate independent ethics investigation of Colangelo, Diamantis and his daughter, which the state released Wednesday, said the three gave conflicting accounts to investigators that “cast doubt on the integrity of the circumstances surrounding Anastasia's hiring,” the Associated Press reported. Colangelo denied there was an improper motive, but the report said “multiple (Criminal Justice) Division officials confirmed expressing concerns to Mr. Colangelo in June 2020 that the Division's hiring of Anastasia created at least an appearance of a conflict.”

    Former Connecticut U.S. Attorney Stanley A. Twardy Jr. was commissioned by the governor’s office to examine whether Colangelo’s hiring of Anastasia violated state ethics rules, the Connecticut Mirror reported Wednesday, but neither his inquiry nor his report dealt with the construction projects under review by the FBI.

    At the time that Anatasia Diamantis was hired by Colangelo, she had a second job working for Construction Advocacy Professionals, a school construction management company, the CT Mirror first reported on Dec. 3. That position was not on her resume but was referenced in emails she wrote that were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the Mirror reported.

    Colangelo had told the Mirror in an interview that he was aware of Anastasia’s outside employment, but he and Anastasia gave conflicting accounts to Twardy regarding whether she disclosed it. When asked if he was aware of allegations by a "former CAP employee that Anastasia was a 'ghost employee' at CAP to bribe Mr. Diamantis in his then position as Deputy OPM Secretary, Mr. Colangelo stated he had no knowledge of those allegations at that time," Twardy wrote. "He stated that had he been aware of those allegations at that time, he might have followed up with Anastasia concerning her then concurrent part-time employment with CAP."

    Colangelo's office said he was reviewing the report before he would comment, the Mirror and other news sites reported.

    In a follow-up request to the state Department of Administrative Services, documents show federal authorities on Oct. 28 requested that DAS prioritize keywords in its search for responsive documents. Those keywords did not include State Pier or the Connecticut Port Authority. They did include: Anastasia, Daughter, Antonietta, DiBenedetto-Roy, DiBenedetto, Roy, "Construction Advocacy Professionals" or "CAP" (all capitals), Capyourbudget.com, FBI, Gift, Wedding, Guiliano, Ouellette and other names.

    With Diamantis gone, the Connecticut Port Authority in December introduced Noel Petra, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Administrative Services, as the person to lead oversight of the State Pier project.

    In October 2019 the authority entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Office of Policy and Management and Department of Administrative Services for management and support services relating to the project’s construction and procurement activities.

    g.smith@theday.com

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