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What to know about the arrest of Kosta Diamantis, former CT budget director

Former Connecticut deputy budget director Kosta Diamantis walks out of federal court, Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Hartford, Conn. after pleading not guilty to 22 criminal criminal counts, including extortion and bribery in connection with allegedly demanding and receiving payments and benefits from construction contractors.
Sue Haigh
/
AP
Former Connecticut deputy budget director Kosta Diamantis walks out of federal court, Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Hartford, Conn. after pleading not guilty to 22 criminal criminal counts, including extortion and bribery in connection with allegedly demanding and receiving payments and benefits from construction contractors.

Former State Budget Director Konstantinos “Kosta” Diamantis has pleaded not guilty on 22 counts of bribery, extortion and lying to federal investigators in a multi-million-dollar bid-rigging scheme. CT Mirror investigative reporter Dave Altimari said the arrest of the former member of Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration is significant, as Diamantis is among the highest ranking state officials to be indicted in two decades.

“Diamantis arguably was the fourth highest person in the state of Connecticut, Altimari said. “And as far as I remember, the second highest state employee ever to be indicted after Gov. Rowland. So, it's a pretty big deal."

As the former head of the state’s office of school construction grants, Diamantis had the power to award lucrative school projects to companies.

“He [also] controlled how much money a town would get,” Altimari said. “So, if he said, ‘I want you to hire a certain contractor,’ they hired a certain contractor.”

The second part of the Diamantis indictment involves a Plainfield construction management company that got a job from Tolland officials overseeing installation of portable classrooms at the Birch Grove Primary School in 2019.

"And while they were getting that contract, they hired Kosta's daughter, Anastasia, to work for their firm and paid her $45 an hour,” Altimari said.

Among the evidence presented in the Diamantis indictment are canceled checks and text messages from Diamantis.

“There's multiple text messages where he basically begs for money, literally, with these two guys who run this masonry company that he helped get several school contracts through his position," Altimari said. “Maybe you can explain away a text message or whatever, but it’s pretty hard to explain away somebody from a company writing you a check ... right after they got a contract.”

Altimari said he expects legislators in their next session will explore putting the type of safeguards in place that he believes were absent in the Diamantis case.

"I would say that Diamantis was basically put in charge of an entire unit and there was no one that was really overseeing their work,” Altimari said. “Clearly this was a situation where no one was watching the hen house, and the fox was running it.”

John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. He's proud to be a part of the team that won a regional Emmy Award for The Vote: A Connecticut Conversation. In his 21st year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.

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