Another piece of the puzzle.
Remember Thomas Kontogiannis? He's the larger
than life twice-convicted Greek-born real estate developer who is better known in Duke Cunningham's plea agreement as co-conspirator #3.
If you look through the Duke files, Kontogiannis' role was mainly as a pass through for large sums of money. Yes, he gave bribes and of course he was involved in a boat transaction with Duke. But in the Cunningham corruption club that was almost a rite of passage.
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.
Now you have the third player Thomas Kontogiannis (#4 was Kontogiannis' nephew. So I'll consider him an extension of his uncle.). Given the background and habits of the other two, is this guy really just a real estate developer from Long Island?
Consider this passage from a piece in the San Diego Union-Tribune
that I excerpted
back in November ...
In a previously undisclosed link between Cunningham and Kontogiannis, the developer accompanied the congressman to Saudi Arabia last year. A Saudi-American businessman flew Cunningham to Saudi Arabia twice last year aboard a private jet. On the second trip, the jet stopped in Athens to pick up Kontogiannis, a native of Greece with businesses interests in several countries.
Ziyad Abduljawad, founder and chairman of San Diego-based PLC Land Co., paid for Cunningham's two trips to Saudi Arabia, each at a cost of more than $10,000. Cunningham has described Abduljawad as an acquaintance who shares his interest in improving U.S.-Saudi relations.
Kontogiannis "went as a friend of Duke's," said Harmony Allen, Cunningham's chief of staff. "That's the extent of it. Duke asked him to go as a friend. I'm not sure if (Kontogiannis) had a special interest (in visiting) Saudi Arabia or not."
It was unclear who paid for Kontogiannis' trip.
What's that about? Cunningham going to Saudi to smooth the edges of the clash of civilizations? Brings Kontogiannis along to help with the outreach?
Just how did Kontogiannis get into the mix with Wilkes and Wade? What's Kontogiannis's real line of work?