“The Chief of Staff Mounds remained silent. Yet, it was the Complainant that Mounds admonished, not the disrespectful legislative members,” the grievance states.
Former DPH Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell, who was fired in the middle of the pandemic in 2020, appeared on two radio programs in recent days talking about discord within the Lamont administration and suggested on WTIC-AM that it is “probably pervasive.”
In an interview on WRDC-AM on Friday, she spoke of “discriminatory bias” in the administration.
“There are a good number of, specifically, Blacks in [Lamont’s] administration … It doesn’t mean just because you have the numbers to reflect a certain population that that there isn’t ill treatment.”
She said Diamantis “made a clean statement on his way out, when he retired, saying he had never seen anyone treated in the manner in which his OPM secretary was treated by Joshua Geballe and Paul Mounds. But just because you have a diverse and high percentage of minority representation does not mean that there isn’t poor treatment and hostility.”
Coleman-Mitchell made similar complaints about “discriminatory and biased treatment” in August 2020.
Geballe announced on Feb. 1 that he is leaving state government for a position at Yale University. The next day, the Lamont administration revealed that a federal grand jury is investigating the state-financed reconstruction of the State Pier in New London and school construction grants overseen by Diamantis before he was fired.
Credibility questioned by report
Federal authorities subpoenaed DAS on Oct. 20 seeking records for state contracts for school renovations, hazardous abatement disposal and the new State Pier in New London, along with emails and text messages involving, among others, Anastasia Diamantis and the school construction company where she worked part-time. That company got $1 million to be the state’s on-call company for school projects.
The subpoenas specifically seek all of the elder Diamantis’ emails and text messages surrounding those projects.
News of the federal investigation came on the same day the governor’s office released a report on an ethics investigation into Colangelo’s hiring of Anastasia while Colangelo lobbied her father for help in securing raises.
Stanley A. Twardy Jr., a partner in the Day Pitney law firm and former U.S. attorney, was commissioned by the governor’s office to examine whether Colangelo’s hiring of Anastasia violated state ethics rules. Neither his inquiry nor his report dealt with the construction projects under review by the FBI.
In his report, Twardy questioned the truthfulness of Colangelo, Kosta Diamantis and his daughter, each of whom were interviewed about how Anastasia met Colangelo and learned of the position in his office. Anastasia Diamantis was hired as an executive assistant on June 11, 2020.
“Based on the available evidence, we do not find credible the largely consistent accounts of Mr. Colangelo, Anastasia, and Mr. Diamantis concerning how Mr. Colangelo and Anastasia first met. Our conclusion that those individuals lack credibility concerning the straightforward question of how Mr. Colangelo and Anastasia first met casts doubt on the integrity of the circumstances surrounding Anastasia’s hiring with the Division,” Twardy wrote.
Improper quid pro quo
The documents also go into detail about Diamantis’ last day as a state employee — Oct. 28, 2021.
Diamantis said he was at the UConn Health Center with his gravely ill mother when McCaw called and asked him to come to her office. When he arrived, McCaw informed him that he was immediately terminated from his appointed position as OPM’s deputy secretary and that he was being placed on paid administrative leave from his classified position as director of the Office of School Construction Grants pending an internal investigation.
Diamantis had held the dual positions for nearly two years.
McCaw told him that the misconduct investigation pertained to his daughter’s hiring as an executive assistant to the Chief State’s Attorney and that it was an “improper quid pro quo” arrangement, in which the Chief State’s Attorney would receive approval of a beneficial salary action by OPM and his daughter would receive the executive assistant position.
Diamantis claims the combination of his mother’s illness, the accusations made against him and his potential termination left him distraught and emotionally compromised.
An hour later, he met with OPM’s human resources officer to discuss which retirement benefits and possible payouts he would be owed depending on whether he retired or was fired.
At the same time Diamantis was reviewing his retirement papers, he received a letter from Lamont informing him he was relieved of his appointment at OPM. Diamantis then signed a letter of resignation and his retirement papers, according to the complaint.
The grievance said the decision to resign “cannot be separated from the surrounding circumstances. He was distraught, confused and overwhelmed by the fact that his 25 years of public service had inexplicably unraveled in less than two hours.”
Three hours later, Diamantis asked OPM’s human resource director if he could rescind his resignation and submitted a letter to OPM officials asking to do so.
The next day, OPM officials asked Diamantis to come to headquarters and sign more documents, even though he was trying to rescind his resignation, the grievance states.
But that same day, Geballe denied his request to rescind his resignation, claiming that under state statutes Diamantis was not an “employee in good standing” and therefore wouldn’t be rehired. Geballe also cited Diamantis’ “unprofessional behavior” from the day before in sending the inappropriate texts to Mounds and himself.
The grievance also claims that Geballe did not have the authority to reject the request to have his resignation rescinded because McCaw was his direct boss.