Governor: Top Prosecutor Would Be Fired If It Was Up to Me

NBC Connecticut

Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday he would fire Connecticut’s top prosecutor — if he had the authority — for “ethical malfeasance,” a day after an independent report raised suspicions about the prosecutor’s hiring of a state budget official’s daughter.

The Democratic governor spoke about Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. during an unrelated news conference.

“When it comes to Colangelo, I don’t hire him, I don’t fire him,” Lamont said. “But if I did, he’d be gone.”

A message seeking comment from Colangelo was left with his spokesperson Thursday. He has denied wrongdoing.

Also Thursday, the chairman of the state Criminal Justice Commission, which has the power to hire and fire chief state’s attorneys, issued a statement about the investigation and Colangelo.

“The findings in the report are quite startling and raise profoundly serious questions about whether the Chief State’s Attorney can continue to discharge the duties of the constitutional office he holds,” the chairman, Associate Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald, wrote.

The commission is asking Attorney General William Tong’s office for advice on the due process that would be needed if it holds a hearing on whether to remove Colangelo, McDonald said, adding no chief state’s attorney has ever been fired.

In his comments, Lamont also said, “I have zero tolerance for this kind of ethical malfeasance and the deputy of OPM was gone very soon.”

Lamont referred to the former deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, Konstantinos Diamantis, whose daughter’s hiring by Colangelo in 2020 spurred the independent investigation. The report said Colangelo hired Diamantis’ daughter while lobbying OPM officials, including Diamantis, for pay raises for prosecutors in his office.

Diamantis was placed on paid leave in October for what officials called “alleged misconduct,” and he submitted a letter of resignation and retirement the same day.

Lamont has referred the factual findings of the independent investigation led by former Connecticut U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy Jr. to state ethics officials and the Criminal Justice Commission. The investigation report was released Wednesday.

Lamont’s office still has not released Twardy’s legal conclusions and recommendations, which were provided verbally, a Lamont spokesperson said.

Diamantis also has denied doing anything wrong. A message seeking comment was left for him Thursday.

Diamantis told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Twardy’s investigation found no wrongdoing and nothing in the report raised red flags about his daughter’s hiring, noting “the chief state’s attorney can hire by statute and the constitution anybody he chooses to effectuate his mission. That’s his choice.”

Diamantis said while he was at the Office of Policy and Management, Colangelo’s requests for pay raises were denied on different occasions.

Diamantis’ daughter, Anastasia Diamantis, did not return a message seeking comment.

Colangelo hired Anastasia Diamantis as an executive assistant in his office at a starting salary of $99,000, effective July 3, 2020. No one else was interviewed for the job.

Colangelo and Konstantinos Diamantis denied discussing a job for Anastasia Diamantis beforehand, Twardy’s report said.

But about a month before Anastasia Diamantis was hired, the report said, Colangelo sent her father an email that included descriptions of two jobs open in Colangelo’s office. Konstantinos Diamantis later forwarded the email to his daughter. The email did not contain any context for making Konstantinos Diamantis aware of the jobs, the investigation report said.

“However, the fact that Mr. Diamantis forwarded the e-mail to Anastasia despite no message in the body of the e-mail from Mr. Colangelo prompting him to do so suggests that Mr. Colangelo and Mr. Diamantis had discussed a job for Anastasia,” the report says.

The report also found that Colangelo, Konstantinos Diamantis and Anastasia Diamantis gave conflicting statements to certain questions by investigators that “cast doubt on the integrity of the circumstances surrounding Anastasia’s hiring.”

Konstantinos Diamantis is also being investigated by the FBI and a federal grand jury in connection with hundreds of millions of dollars in state spending on school construction projects and improvements to the state pier in New London, according to a federal subpoena that was publicly released on Wednesday. The subpoena is dated Oct. 20, eight days before Konstantinos Diamantis was put on leave and resigned.

Konstantinos Diamantis, a lawyer and former Democratic state representative, had overseen the state’s school construction funding program for the last six years of his state employment.

It’s not clear from the subpoena what exactly federal authorities are investigating. A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut, which subpoenaed the state records, declined to comment.

The document was released by state officials Wednesday in response to requests by several Connecticut media organizations under Freedom of Information laws.

Diamantis declined to comment on the federal investigation Wednesday. He previously has said he believed he would be cleared of any wrongdoing.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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