Tag Archives: Thomas Kontogiannis

Cunningham Conspirators Getting Punchy

“On no occasion did I contemplate he would be vacationing in Greece pending sentencing,” [U.S. District Judge Larry] Burns said.

Thus continues the sands through the hourglass of the Cunningham corruption scandal.  Burns ruled that the case against mortgage broker and co-conspirator Thomas Kontogiannis will continue despite objections from his nephew’s lawyers (nephew John Michael is also on trial for money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice).  Michael’s lawyers claim that Kontogiannis has continued to engage in fraud with full knowledge of prosecutors since his plea in February.

What fraud?  Well, ongoing mortgage fraud from New York apparently.  Mr. Kontogiannis has been a busy boy though as, despite surrendering his passport and agreeing to only leave the country in the company or with the permission of federal agents, he’s been chilling on vacation in Greece.

But w- w- w- w- wait it gets worse.

In court papers filed last month, [Michael lawyer] Granger also revealed that in 2005 Kontogiannis’ daughter had bought the Long Island home that was owned by the uncle of Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Halpern, who is one of the prosecutors in the case against Michael and Wilkes. The uncle died in 2003, and the home was bought from his estate.

Granger had argued this was a conflict and that the entire U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego should be removed from the case, or that Halpern should be banned from it.

Now clearly, Granger is just throwing absolutely everything against the wall and hoping something will stick.  Obviously, Carol Lam has already been removed for actually enforcing the law, and removing what remains of the office seems rather silly.  But it drags things out and muddies the waters.

The next date to watch for is October 2 when the Brent Wilkes trial kicks off.  Prosecutors say that Kontogiannis will “probably not” be called to testify if the case goes well, but he’s presumed to be cooperating with government lawyers.  Many twists and turns still to come on this one, and if Duke Cunningham (R-Tuscon Federal Correction Insitution)’s jailhouse confession is any sort of teaser, we’re in for quite a ride.