Several officials at the Division of Criminal Justice told Chief State’s Attorney Richard J. Colangelo Jr. not to hire the daughter of Kostas Diamantis, the deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, according to a report released Wednesday.
But Colangelo moved forward with hiring Anastasia Diamantis even as he continued to press her father for raises for himself and his employees, dozens of emails and interviews show. The documents were all part of the investigation done by former U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy.
Gov. Ned Lamont turned over Twardy’s 42-page report and nearly 500 pages of attached documents to the Office of State Ethics and Justice Andrew McDonald, chair of the Connecticut Criminal Justice Commission, a panel with the authority to fire or discipline Colangelo, who is Connecticut’s leading prosecutor.
“I am very disturbed by the findings in Mr. Twardy’s report,” Lamont said in a statement released late Wednesday.
The report comes the same day as Freedom of Information requests from several news organizations revealed the existence of an F.B.I. subpoena for emails and text messages related to a broad range of construction projects, like the State Pier in New London, that Diamantis oversaw.
It’s unknown what prompted the federal investigation.
As far as the report is concerned, Colangelo will read it first before commenting, according to Alaine Griffin, director of communications for the Division of Criminal Justice.
“Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo has not had the opportunity to review the full report and is reserving comment until his review is complete,” Griffin said in a statement.
McDonald, whose commission appointed Colangelo in early 2020, said he will share the report with members and then work with the office of Attorney General William Tong to determine if any violations occurred.
“I have not had a chance to review this lengthy report and supporting documentation in detail, which together span more than 500 pages,” McDonald said. “Nor have I had the opportunity to share it with the members of the Criminal Justice Commission yet. Once we have reviewed it, we intend to work with the Attorney General’s office to determine whether any rules, policies or statutes have been violated and what next steps, if any, the commission will take.”
The commission will also respond to Lamont’s request for any proposed policy changes to the Criminal Justice Advisory Board and the legislature.
Twardy was hired by the Lamont administration to conduct an independent investigation into the hiring of Anastasia Diamantis after Hartford Courant Columnist Kevin Rennie questioned the timing of her employment, which coincided with Colangelo’s push to get 16 of his employees and himself raises in an opinion piece published on Oct. 1.
The article prompted a review by Lamont’s general counsel, which resulted in Kosta Diamantis being removed from his position at OPM and placed on paid administrative leave from OPM’s Office of School Construction Grants and Review.
Kosta Diamantis opted to retire as of Nov. 1, 12 days after the federal subpoena was issued. Twardy was hired by the Lamont administration to conduct the investigation shortly afterward.
Twardy’s findings reveal that Kosta Diamantis continued to push for the raises for Colangelo and his staff even after Rennie’s article sparked an internal review. By Oct. 18, he had set up a call with state Department of Administrative Services Deputy Commissioner Nicholas Hermes to insist that OPM Secretary Melissa McCaw had approved the raises and he needed Hermes to take action.
Based on the concerns generated by the article, Hermes did not move forward, Twardy’s report said.
Shortly after he was appointed, Colangelo sought permission from DAS to hire executive assistants at about a $100,000 a year salary. The job title and responsibilities were fluid which allowed for greater flexibility in what duties could be assigned to the executive assistants, the report said.
By May 2020, Colangelo was seeking to get pay raises to attract candidates to the position of state’s attorney, the report said. More than a dozen employees including Colangelo had their hours bumped up from 35 to 40 a week without extra compensation.
McCaw and Kosta Diamantis both provided letters to Colangelo in 2020 denying the raises based on the state’s fiscal constraints, the report said. But Colangelo and Diamantis kept in contact over the issue by email over the span of months, documents showed.
Colangelo began considering hiring Anastasia Diamantis around June 2020, the report showed. At the time, several officials within the Division of Criminal Justice expressed their concerns, since her father worked for OPM, which provides funding to the division, Twardy said in the report.
During his interviews for the investigation Colangelo insisted that he did not think Kosta Diamantis could help him with the pay raise issue, Twardy’s report said. Kosta Diamantis and McCaw made similar statements to Twardy, he said in the report.
“However, those claims are contradicted by the magnitude of communications between Mr. Colangelo, Mr. Diamantis and Secretary McCaw concerning this issue, the reality that Mr. Diamantis was then the second highest ranking OPM official in the state, and the fact that the issue kept resurfacing at OPM despite repeated denials – the first being just weeks before Colangelo contacted Mr. Diamantis with job descriptions and then hired Anastasia just days later.”