Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Queens Sleaziest, Part II: Thomas Kontogiannis

Disgraced and imprisoned felon/former Congressman Duke Cunningham (R - Alcatraz) has apparently begun to cooperate after a year in the slammer.

And that means more juicy details on Queens connection to one of the most egregious bribery scandals in US history: Thomas Kontogiannis.

Some choice tidbits:

The FBI stated that:

More than $1 million in bribes was laundered by being sent to Kontogiannis instead of going directly to Cunningham. Investigators identified at least 70 bank accounts maintained by Kontogiannis at one bank.

Despite his many businesses, Kontogiannis has not filed a tax return since 2001.

For the first time, investigators shed light on what Kontogiannis expected to get from Cunningham – help on a potential sale of fighter jets to his native Greece.

The Rolls-Royce that drew so much attention early in the investigation was not the only car that Cunningham made the contractors buy for him. In only two days in early 2002, the congressman bought a $43,000 Thunderbird and a $41,000 BMW from Bob Baker Ford in San Diego with $63,000 of his payment coming from bribes. That was three months before Wade gave him $10,000 toward the used Rolls-Royce.

In mid-2004, when Cunningham needed to make repairs to his boat, he called Wade and demanded $6,500 in cash. Wade took the money out of his petty cash, stuffed it into a bulging envelope and rushed it over to a Cunningham fundraiser at a Washington restaurant, giving it to a Cunningham staffer.

In his prison interviews with investigators, as summarized by the FBI, the former congressman is reported to have:

Openly “recalled exerting pressure on government officials” to reward his bribers.

Said Wilkes told him he was “hiding money in a bank account in Panama” to pay him bribes.

Spoke of having had to find ways to get around objections from Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon, both of whom tried to block Cunningham's spending projects for Wade and Wilkes as wasteful and unneeded.

FBI Affidavit (pdf)
FBI Transcript (pdf)

What will it take for our local press to get interested in this story?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

how about $97million in bank/wire fraud?