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    Sunday, July 21, 2024

    ‘Kosta’ cancels pre-trial Greek trip. Lawyer scoffs at idea he would flee prosecution

    Indicted former state budget officer Konstantinos Diamantis has withdrawn a request to take an extended vacation to his family’s ancestral Greek village after federal prosecutors expressed concern that he might use it as an opportunity to assert dual citizenship and abscond.

    “The defendant, Konstantinos Diamantis, withdraws his Motion for Permission to Travel to Greece,” Diamantis lawyer Norm Pattis wrote in a one-sentence federal court filing early Tuesday.

    Diamantis and his lawyer offered no explanation for his change of heart about the pre-paid, nonrefundable, month-long family vacation booked months before his indictment in May on extortion, bribery and false statement charges. He is accused of taking payment from contractors for whom he arranged work on state-financed school building projects.

    Just a day earlier, in another filing in U.S. District Court, Diamantis sounded prepared to fight for his vacation.

    “At the time of his presentment, he apparently did not inform the magistrate that he had a pre-planned trip to Greece planned with his family,” Pattis wrote.

    “One could forgive him for that lapse if one took the time to consider that foremost on his mind that day was securing his liberty.” Pattis wrote. “But charitable instincts are apparently in short supply in the United States Attorney’s Office, at least as regards this defendant.

    “The Government contends it cannot monitor Mr. Diamantis’ whereabouts while he travels with his children, grandchildren and elderly relatives, as though this caravan were expected to be on the run from Interpol.”

    The U.S. Attorney’s office, in its opposition to the travel called Greece a “troubling destination country for Diamantis’s pre-trial travel.”

    “Diamantis is reportedly the son of Greek citizens, giving him the constitutional right in Greece to claim citizenship…,” the prosecutors said. “During his proposed month in Greece, Diamantis would have ample opportunity to claim Greek citizenship and seek to avoid or at least delay extradition back to the United States.”

    Pattis scoffed at the suggestion his client would attempt to flee prosecution.

    “Mr. Diamantis has known for years that the Government was investigating  him and has had ample opportunity to flee if that was his intention,” Pattis said in a court filing. “He is eager to defend the case on the merits.”

    Diamantis, four of his daughters, three of his grandchildren, his son-in-law’s widowed mother, and some other relatives bought tickets for the July-August trip in January.

    “It will be a homecoming of sorts for the extended group as the trip is focused on the village from which Mr. Diamantis’ ancestors were born and raised,” Pattis said in the filing. “Mr. Diamantis is expected to serve largely as a guide on the trip and the trip will likely be canceled for all involved if he is unable to participate.”

    Diamantis is free on a $500,000 that requires him, among other things, to surrender his passport  and seek pre-approval for travel outside Connecticut.

    Prosecutors said Diamants failed to turn in his passport and, when confronted early last month, said he could not find it. Over the period in which he is accused of shaking down contractors, Diamantis — a former state representative from Bristol known as Kosta — was director of the state Office of School Construction Grants and Review.

    “On June 27, 2024, counsel for Diamantis requested the Government’s position on Diamantis’s plan to travel to Greece for four weeks, from July 28 to August 24, 2024,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said it its court filing. “The Government pointed out that Diamantis had previously claimed to have lost his passport, and thus international travel seemed impossible. Within hours, counsel informed the Government that Diamantis had located his passport.”

    In addition to being deputy budget director, Diamantis was in charge of the program in which the state substantially subsidized municipal school building projects. After two years of investigation, federal authorities accused him and three others of a conspiracy through which the others paid him for getting them contracts on school projects.

    A federal judge was to have decided on the travel.

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