David hinted at it on the main page this morning: reporters on the Kontogiannis story have long wondered whether Tommy K might be a U.S. intelligence asset. After all, he has an amazing knack for staying out of jail despite at least two convictions, he's an international businessman, and the government went to extraordinary lengths to keep his identity secret in his current plea arrangement -- including delaying Kontogiannis' fingerprinting for months after his guilty plea. Now, in the unsealed transcript of Kontogiannis' February 22 hearing, Judge Larry Burns provides some strong hints in that direction.
Read More →
In February, when arranging Kontogiannis' guilty plea, the government requested that Burns keep the proceedings under seal -- a highly unusual request -- pending the development of an unspecified "investigation." Burns, attempting to strike a balance between the government's need to pursue its investigation and the public's right to open court proceedings, decided to give the government a renewable 30-day closure period. "The court's experience is that deadlines tend to move an investigation on," Burns said on February 21. A memo provided by the government explaining both the facts of Kontogiannis' involvement with the investigation and the legal arguments justifying the extraordinary secrecy would remain sealed permanently, to be released "over my dead body," Burns promised the next day.
However, at that subsequent hearing, Burns still grappled with striking the proper balance. A sticking point was how the court would even place in the record the fact that the case was sealed without making public who the case concerned -- an imperative for both prosecutors and Kontogiannis' counsel.