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Kosta Diamantis arrested, charged with school construction extortion

HARTFORD – Konstantinos “Kosta” Diamantis, a former state lawmaker and deputy budget director, was arrested by federal officials on Thursday and charged with extorting contractors and accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes related to Connecticut school construction projects,

In a 35-page indictment, Diamantis was charged with 22 separate counts, including extortion, bribery, conspiracy and 13 charges for allegedly lying to federal investigators. 

Citing emails and other messages, federal prosecutors alleged Diamantis used his position as the head of the state’s Office of School Construction Grants and Review to strong-arm contractors into paying him a cut of the school construction contracts he helped them win, specifically in Hartford and Tolland.

[None of the charges against Diamantis relate to Norwalk’s schools, yet he has had a strong impact on school construction projects here, NancyOnNorwalk has reported. State Senator Bob Duff (D-25) said in December 2019 that his long-term relationship with Diamantis and a specific discussion earlier that year had prompted the decision to switch from renovating Norwalk High to constructing an entirely new facility.

[Duff said he had spoken with Diamantis in May about the focus on repairing rather than replacing the aged Norwalk High School.“Unfortunately, with the age of the building, resources provided and unanticipated costs, a lot of the larger projects would be either done inadequately or not at all. Especially the ones that were most important to the students and their success,” Duff said.

[Diamantis heard the frustration and a movement to seek a more global solution was born, Duff said. “It was time to think big for Norwalk High School.”

[Construction of the new Norwalk High School officially got under way April 2 of this year.]

“This indictment contains allegations of a civil servant who committed multiple felonies, including extorting contractors, demanding and receiving bribes, and repeatedly lying to federal agents investigating his conduct,” Vanessa Roberts Avery, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, said. “This kind of criminal behavior can never be tolerated, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our investigative partners will work to uncover it, no matter how long it takes.”

“The depth of deception, collusion and abuse of power by the defendants in this case, as alleged, is glaring,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Fuller. “The willingness to manipulate contracts and blatantly steal by abusing a position of public trust is intolerable.”

Diamantis’ arrest, first reported by The Connecticut Mirror, makes him the highest-ranked Connecticut official to face federal charges since Gov. John G. Rowland.

The charges are the result of a years-long investigation into Diamantis, who ran Connecticut’s school construction program and oversaw other projects for Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration until he was fired from one state position and resigned from another in October 2021

Diamantis, 67, was arraigned in Hartford federal court on Thursday afternoon. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $500,000 bail.

As he was escorted out of federal court, his attorney, Vincent Provenzano, said it was too early to comment on the charges because he had not had a chance to review the recently unsealed indictment.

Julia Bergman, a spokesperson for Lamont, said the governor “appreciates the work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal agencies involved in this case. The governor has been clear that he has zero tolerance for malfeasance and corruption in government.” 

“The State of Connecticut and its citizens are the victims where there is public corruption, and the governor will continue to support the full scope of resources and investigative tools available to federal authorities in rooting out corruption,” Bergman added.

Konstantinos “Kosta” Diamantis, a former Connecticut lawmaker and deputy budget director, exits the U.S. District Court in Hartford after being charged with 22 counts on May 16, 2024. CREDIT: SHAHRZAD RASEKH / CT MIRROR

Federal prosecutors have already secured several guilty pleas from some of the construction contractors that allegedly paid Diamantis for steering work to their companies.

One of those contractors is Antonietta Roy, the owner of Construction Advocacy Professionals, who was charged with conspiracy to commit bribery.

The two others were Salvatore Monarca and John Duffy, the president and vice president of Acranom Masonry, who were both charged with conspiracy to commit extortion. 

All three pleaded guilty to the charges filed against them earlier this week, according to federal court records, but the cases were not unsealed until after Diamantis was arrested at his home in Farmington on Thursday morning. 

A large portion of the federal indictment against Diamantis is focused on his relationship with Acranom, a Middlefield-based company that won school construction contracts in Hartford and Tolland.

Federal prosecutors alleged Diamantis helped that masonry company to net those multimillion-dollar contracts with the understanding that Monarca and Duffy would kick a portion of that money back to him.

The indictment repeatedly cites previously undisclosed conversations between Diamantis and the two men.

Those records, according to prosecutors, show that Diamantis worked behind the scenes to benefit the company and attempted to use the relationship to profit from his position overseeing the state’s school construction office.

This article was republished with permission from CTMirror.org.
NancyOnNorwalk staff contributed to this report.


4 responses to “Kosta Diamantis arrested, charged with school construction extortion”

  1. Bryan Meek

    We knew about this “smoke” over 4 years ago, yet this administration decided to forge ahead into the “fire”. Let me guess, no one who helped hatch this debacle at NHS was available for comment? The recent Land Use & Building Management Committee meeting didn’t even discuss this project in any detail whatsoever. The single largest project in the City’s history and not a single peep about it or the rumors that it is already $7 million over budget or that un forecasted significant blasting and removal of ledge is going to be required. If this committee won’t track our money going up in smoke, maybe Finance will? Will someone actually stand up for us instead of sacrificing our future for personal gain?

  2. Jo Bennett

    Great. On the advice of an extortionist with a self-professed “standard rate” of 5% for project kickbacks, Norwalk taxpayers are saddled for generations paying for a high school that we did not need or want. Bonus: it will most definitely cost far more than projected, given complexities of building on that site and mind-blowing inflation since this crackpot scheme was unfurled. Thanks (not), Bob and Harry.

  3. Tysen Canevari

    Well this is an interesting turn of events. The extortionist told our senator we should build a new school instead of fixing the old one. Too bad he didn’t get in that silly picture with all the politicians and their shiny shovels smiling for the camera! Maybe Diamantis is in the electric backpack business as well which helped Lisa Shanahan manipulate her group into voting for the useless ban! I am assuming parks and rec and DPW should be out there with electric blowers real soon Harry? Maybe you and Bob can try the first two at your condo Mr Mayor. Oh but wait, the. city doesn’t have any yet! Talk about hippocrites. How bout the governor who hates corrupt politicians. Well, cutting down 180 trees in your backyard to see the lake without permission would certainly qualify as corrupt to most people.

  4. Bryan Meek

    @TC. The Governor corrupt? The one who endorsed the machine in Bridgeport AFTER they were caught on video cheating in the election? Come on. And how do you know he isn’t building a helipad or something in his backyard? Imagine how much he could save the environment by not having his motorcade having to sit in traffic on 95. And besides that he could save Sikorski from shuttering and moving south with a helicopter movement.

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