Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thomas Kontogiannis - one more Cunningham briber, or more?

Randy "Duke" Cunningham is the poster child for corruption among the Republicans in Congress. He pleaded guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from various individuals in exchange for Cunningham's help getting favors from government as well as failure to report income on his taxes.

One of the bribers was Mitchell Wade, owner of the defense contracting firm MZM, and Brent Wilkes, owner of ADCS Inc., another defense contractor. Both got significant government contracts because Cunningham was on the Defense Appropriations Committee of Congress.

Two other bribers of "Duke" were Thomas Kontogiannis, an real estate magnate in New York who had been convicted of bid-rigging and bribing members of a New York school board in order to obtain a contract. Kontogiannis wanted Randy Cunningham to get President Bush to sign a pardon for him. The fourth person was Kontogiannis's nephew John T. Michael who owned a mortgage company which gave Congressman Cunningham two large mortgages which he used to buy his Rancho Santa Fe mansion. It appears that Thomas Kontogiannis was the key person here, and he roped in his nephew to do the money-handling for him.

At least that is what it looked like up until now. Josh Marshall at TPM appears to have found indicators that Kontogiannis may have had a larger role in the overall operations. Remember, Cunningham retired from that Navy as a Commander and the top Navy flying ace from Viet Nam. Both Wade and Wilkes were in Naval Intelligence before they became Defense Contractors.
Now, from the records, one of things that Kontogiannis wanted from Duke was some help trying to beat the rap (and later get a pardon for) a bid-rigging scandal back in New York. And for a long time I'd always sort of figured that Brent Wilkes and Mitchell Wade were the real players in this story, with Kontogiannis just added in for comic relief and -- as someone who controlled a mortgage company -- someone who could easily move money around.

But I'm hearing it may not be that simple.

Consider this. Mitch Wade was in naval intelligence before he left to work in the fraud and public corruption sector. Brent Wilkes -- and we're going to be hearing a lot more about this -- was deep into the darker regions of the intel world. Both of their scams were the same, plying the government contracting biz deep in the classified realm where scrutiny and oversight is minimal at best.

From a previous post by Josh Marshall there is more:
Is Kontogiannis also in the Intelligence business such that his connection to Cunningham is also hidden behind a wall of national security secrecy?

Josh Marshall also points out that Kontogiannis was previously (1992) arrested Kontogiannis along with an employee at the US Embassy in Athens for accepting bribes to provide phony US visas. The same post provides additional details regarding what Kontogiiannis was convicted for with the New York School Board.

Josh is looking into what Kontogiannis was involved in, and the answer may be quite interesting.

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