Probe Casts Doubt on Integrity of Job Hire by Top Prosecutor

NBC Connecticut

An independent investigation released Wednesday questioned the “integrity” of Connecticut’s top prosecutor hiring a state budget official’s daughter in 2020 while lobbying for pay raises for staff, prompting Gov. Ned Lamont to forward the findings to state ethics and criminal justice officials for possible further action.

The report says Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr., former high-ranking budget official Konstantinos Diamantis and his daughter, Anastasia Diamantis gave conflicting accounts to investigators during some questions that “cast doubt on the integrity of the circumstances surrounding Anastasia’s hiring.”

Colangelo denied there was an improper motive and Konstantinos Diamantis said Colangelo’s requests for pay raises were denied while he was at the Office of Policy and Management. But the report by former Connecticut U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy Jr. 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.”

Lamont said he was “disturbed” at the findings and referred the report to the Office of State Ethics and the Criminal Justice Commission, which oversees state prosecutors, to determine what action to take, if any.

“I wanted this independent investigation conducted because the people of Connecticut deserve transparency and accountability from their government,” Lamont said in a statement. ”It is critical that all public officials understand and comply with state ethics laws.”

The report makes factual conclusions about the events leading up to, and following the hiring of Anastasia Diamantis as an executive assistant to Colangelo at a starting salary of $99,000 effective July 3, 2020.

The governor’s office, however, did not release a separate legal analysis with recommendations it received from Twardy. A spokesperson for Lamont said the analysis was provided verbally.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Andrew McDonald, who leads the Criminal Justice Commission, said he had not had time to review the voluminous report, which includes more than 500 pages of findings and supporting documents. He said after the commission finishes the review, it will work with the attorney general’s office to determine whether any laws, rules or policies have been violated and what further steps, if any, to take.

Lamont also ordered his legal office to work with ethics officials to develop and deliver within the next 90 days ethics training to all political appointees in the executive branch, focusing on conflicts of interest and improper use of office. He also has asked the Criminal Justice Commission to submit recommendations on policy changes and other actions in response to the report.

Colangelo said in a statement that he would not be commenting on the report until he finishes reviewing it.

Konstantinos Diamantis, former deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, submitted a letter of resignation and retirement in October on the same day he was placed on paid administrative leave in connection with the investigation of Colangelo’s hiring of his daughter.

He said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that the 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.

“If it’s about the truth, the truth is no quid pro quo, we denied Rich’s requests,” he said. “The chief state’s attorney has been nothing but a gentleman and fighting on behalf of his people, which is what his job is. And the only thing he’s been asking for is time to meet with the secretary, who is the ultimate decision maker, to understand what his requests were. But as of October 28, which was my last day, they were denied."

A message seeking comment was left for Anastasia Diamantis.

Colangelo, who was appointed in February 2020, continued a push for pay raises for the chief state’s attorney and other non-union positions that also were pursued by his predecessor, Kevin Kane. They cited perceived salary inequities between non-unionized staff and unionized prosecutors.

Colangelo’s effort included numerous emails to officials at the Office of Policy and Management, including Konstantinos Diamantis and OPM Secretary Melissa McCaw, before and after he hired Anastasia Konstantinos.

Twardy’s report said there was no evidence the executive assistant position was created specifically for Anastasia Diamantis. It did say, however, that no one else was interviewed for the job and Colangelo offered it to her on the spot during the interview.

About a month before Anastasia Diamantis was hired, Colangelo sent her father an email with the subject line “info” 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.

Colangelo and Konstantinos Diamantis told investigators they never discussed job opportunities for Anastasia Diamantis.

“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.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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