Tommy K “In Custody”

I was apparently one of the few who noticed the news last week that Tommy K, Duke Cunningham’s mysterious briber, has continued to engage in apparent mortgage fraud since the time he signed his plea deal in February. From one of the government’s recent filings,

(4) During the pre-trial proceedings of coconspirators Brent Wilkes and John Michael, the government first received information suggesting that defendant Kontogiannis was, in fact, still committing federal criminal offenses, including, but not limited to bank fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1344.

(5) As part of these proceedings, defense counsel for John Michael obtained various financial documents indicating that Mr. Kontogiannis was–unbenknownst to the government–still continuing his illegal mortgage fraud scheme. In addition, Michael’s defense counsel contacted Washington Mutual to obtain information regarding the fraudulent mortgages that they had purchased from Mr. Kontogiannis.


…as a direct result of being contracted by Michael’s defense counsel, Washington Mutual contacted the government with information regarding Mr. Kontogiannis’s continued illegal activity.

(8) Within the past two weeks, we obtained clearer indications that Mr. Kontogiannis was engaged in post-plea illegal activity.

As if that’s not enough, Tommy K has apparently been selling fraudulent mortgages right into the giant shitpile of bad mortgage debt. Well (via chrisc), it appears that the government has finally figured out that Tommy K isn’t about to go straight, and they’ve taken him into custody in the hospital where he’s recovering from heart surgery.

A federal judge has revoked bail for a key figure in the corruption case against former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham after learning he traveled to Greece and appeared to commit additional crimes.

The judge postponed sentencing for New York financier Thomas Kontogiannis after learning the defendant had bypass surgery last week at a New York hospital, where he is recovering. He will remain in federal custody at the hospital. [my emphasis]

No word yet on whether they’re actually going to punish him for violating his plea agreement–that might mean they have to stop sending Tommy K on luxury trips to Greece in the name of cooperation with some other mysterious investigation.

  1. Waccamaw says:

    ew –

    Lord a mercy, child! Waddya do….get an injection of high test? Now I know where the beloved spinning wheel from the Lake turned up – over here! Multiple exciting posts and closer to home to boot.

    Best wishes in your new cabin.

  2. chrisc says:

    I am not sure what it means but the brief AP story included a pronunciation guide for Kontogiannis:


  3. burnspbesq says:

    This is what happens when you use crooks to catch crooks. Kontogiannis probably thought that as long as he was cooperating, he could do pretty much whatever he wanted. One wonders whether, if he ceases his cooperation, the prosecutors have gotten enough out of him already.

  4. SaltinWound says:

    Congratulations on the new location (I’m just seeing if I can successfully complete the registration process)

  5. bmaz says:

    Well. I guess this blows my statement to somebody that Special K probably had no fear of being taken into custody before Christmas. Quite sorry about that. Still, this is curious. The court had knowledge of TK’s violation of release conditions and likely commission of new crimes (including, among other things, passport fraud) quite some time ago and did nothing. Why now? Was it just new Shitpiling that caused the revocation, or is something else up that we are not seeing (my guess)?

  6. bmaz says:

    Saltinwound – do you use Mac/Safari? I am getting weird symbols where standard punctuation should be here and there on this new site; and I use a MacBook. That happens every now and then on Safari. Weird thing is that it is not consistent; sometimes it is just right, sometimes the weird symbols appear. Can’t yet discern what begets them being there or not; so far, kind of seems random….

    • phred says:

      bmaz and SaltinWound — Using Safari it appears if you do a hard refresh (circle arrow at top of browser) the punctuation is magically fixed. If you only click Submit Comment or the “Click here to load them” you get funny characters where ellipses, apostrophes, etc. should be.

      That said, if anyone knows how to successfully get a colon or semicolon to appear, I would be grateful…

  7. emptywheel says:

    I suspect it has to do with being told of the evidence of ongoing fraud coming in from WaMu. The fancy Greek vacation wasn’t a clear violation of the plea deal, this is, unquestionably.

    Meanwhile, I bet Judge Burns just wants to be rid of this whole mess once and for all.

  8. AZ Matt says:

    What we are missing at DOJ now: RIP Michael Shaheen

    Michael E. Shaheen Jr., the Justice Department’s top internal watchdog from 1975 to 1997, who never feared attacking abuses by top officials, died of pancreatic cancer Thursday at his home in Falls Church, Va. He was 67.

    A scathing report by Shaheen in 1993, which accused FBI Director William Sessions of misuse of government property, led to President Clinton’s dismissal of Sessions. In 1989, Shaheen wrote a 61-page report that said former Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese had engaged in “conduct which should not be tolerated of any government employee, especially not the attorney general.”

    As the founding director of the Office of Professional Responsibility, Shaheen conducted investigations of high-ranking Cabinet officials, senior White House employees and more than one president. A job he thought would run no more than a year lasted 22 years, through the tenure of eight attorneys general.

    “He was a straight arrow, he was a professional in every sense of the word, and he took his job very seriously,” former FBI and CIA Director William Webster said Friday. “He was the go-to guy on any kind of ethical inquiry.”

      • phred says:

        Ok, that’s odd, I haven’t gotten the colon or semicolon to work all day and poof, there they are. Let me try this then

        • phred says:

          Ok, one last test and I’ll stop. The try with multiple colons and semicolons worked, but the smiley fails to appear. How ’bout this : ) or ; )

  9. bmaz says:

    Oh, no question that Burns is looking to retire from the TK beat; we saw that either last week, or the week before. There is a difference between the release conditions and the plea here though. I see no evidence that the actual plea has been sought to be revoked by either the prosecutor or court, nor, obviously, TK moving to set it aside. New crimes are certainly a basis for such. All that has been done here is revocation of the release conditions; which many courts would have done back the second they heard about the unauthorized Geeece trip and alleged passport fraud (I guess not really alleged because, if I recall correctly, the court had TK’s passport, so he had to have used a false one). Not to mention hauling in the prosecutors and agents to see what, and which ones, knew of said activity by TK (and trust me many of them knew a lot). Now, back to the “plea ” part; that really is a consideration if there are new crimes to be charged, since TK has not been sentenced yet. If I were TK’s counsel, depending on the circumstances, I might would want to revoke the current plea and have it amended to include any and all new offenses so that I don’t have another “felony strike” against me when facing the “new charges”. Tricky considerations abound on this, but it is a pretty common occurrence for criminal defense attorneys.

  10. chrisc says:

    I was the one who first suggested that Wilkes was trying to spend one last Christmas with the family.
    But we both figured out that Wilkes sentencing is in January, thus the crazy subpoenas
    had to have some other reason. My guess is that Wilkes would like to co-ordinate with Foggo on their upcoming trial as a free man.

    For the record, Kontogiannis was only charge with one count.
    I don’t think we ever got to see the first plea agreement. But in the 2nd plea agreement, which superceeded the first, he was only charged with one count. At the time, my impression is that the SD AUSAs were leaning toward probation. They now want K to get the full 10 yrs.

    Something may have changed. Whoever was protecting K may have lost the confidence of both Judge Burns and the SD AUSAs. They AUSAs filed an ex-parte motion to allow “disclosure of grand jury matter in sentencing memorandum.”
    I hope that means they are going to throw us a few morsels as to why TommyK was one of their favorite crooks, but that could just be hopeful wishing on my part.

    • bmaz says:

      My bad. I was confusing the Wilkes release/sentencing with that of TK. I am anathema to change; so I am a bit discombobulated with the big move, I’ll get over it in a few days. Not to mention I am often very lame….

    • looseheadprop says:

      When a defendant enters into a coopertion agreement with the government, the written agreement contain svery clear language that if you commit any additional crimes while “cooperating”, that they will throw the book at you.

      And don’t be so sure that the AUSA’s knew he went to Greece in advance of him doing so, i have had cases where I went months without contact with a cooperating witness. In Tommy K’s case, the court had his passposrt and Tommy K had a major business here in NY to run. He was not some unstable junkie who might go “in the wind” if you didn’t keep track of him frequently.

      Getting cought committing crimes while cooperating gets you a world of hurt form both the agents and AUSA’s. I know this from first hand experience, I had one go bad on me. Theoffice policy and the instituttiona lculture is to throw everything at him. You have to or the courts won’t believe you when you proffer the next one and you will see your whole cooperting witness program go up in smoke.

      • bmaz says:

        LHP – Normally i would agree wholeheartedly, but they have been going through this same crap with TK for what 6,7 years now (maybe more)? He is ALWAYS committing new crimes. Plus, either his, or Michaels’, family was posting stuff all over the internet the second he left (maybe before) and I have to believe the DOJ (whether prosecutors or agents, who knows) either knew ahead of time, or knew immediately after he left. Yet there were crickets out of them for a very long time. I agree with what you said generally, but, man, I don’t know about here in this situation. I should make clear when I said prosecutors, I did not necessarily mean the SD AUSAs; I was more thinking with higher ups and the slightly mysterious “other AUSAs” that I think were out of NY, but could have been from EDVA or DC.

  11. JohnJ says:

    Here in Jeb country, they violated a guy’s probation for his roommate dog not having a license. I’m glad we have standards.

  12. SeamusD says:

    Punctuation seems to be hit or miss. For preview I’ve been using a Crooks & Liars comment box, they also use wordpress and their preview function works. It’s a little awkward but better than nothing. Compose/preview, then cut/paste to FDL’s comment box.

  13. phred says:

    Thanks SeamusD.

    bmaz — O.M.G., I have something in common with Bush? Admittedly we’re both hominids, but beyond that… how will I ever bear the shame ; )

    MadDog, please don’t tell William Ockham, he just finished mopping up after freepatriot at the old place. Just chuck a roll of paper towels in here and we’ll keep it to ourselves, eh?

  14. emptywheel says:


    I’ve been bumping into moving boxes all day–and left the first 20 comments in a closet for an hour, all begging to be let out.

    Hopefully we’ll all figure out where the toilet is before things get desperate.

  15. emptywheel says:


    This case is complicated by the fact that K was cooperating with folks in your neck of the woods, and not the team in SD. The NY (presumably) team was supposed to be VERY actively working with him when he disappeared to Greece, with a passport he shouldn’t have had.

    The question is, did that NY team know about his ongoing mortgage fraud?

    In any case, the SD team does seem intent on throwing some books at K. Let’s see if his protectors can bail him out of this one.

  16. bobschacht says:

    Congratulations on your new digs! I love having emptywheel and FDL side by side on the menu bar at the top!

    Has Tommy K got a nickname yet? If not, how about Tommy the Rat? Seems appropriate on several levels.

    Thanks for keeping us informed on this.

    Bob in HI

  17. bmaz says:

    Bob, I’ve been using “Special K” every now and then to connote his special treatment by the Feds despite his nearly decade long spree of crime under their watch; but “Tommy the Rat” is fairly appropriate also.

  18. watercarrier4diogenes says:

    I’m running Leopard and Safari 3.0.4 that came with it (I usually use Firefox) and have my Safari>Preferences>Appearance>Default Encoding set to Western (ISO Latin 1). Might want to try that, though the intermittency of the problem gives me a feeling that it’s some kind of disagreement btwn Safari and the new Firedoglake servers. Didn’t see anything like it on the old Firedoglake.

    PS-Sent a contrib thru PayPal, emptywheel, hopin’ I wuz the 1st :). (there should be an apostrophe in hopin’ and a smiley here)

    • phred says:

      Thanks for suggesting Western (ISO Latin 1). I checked and that’s the setting I’ve got. However, I’m not giving up on my smiley’s (been using ‘em for 20 years and I can’t seem to type without ‘em) and since you managed one without a space between the “:” and the “)”, I’ll give it another try… How’s this

        • phred says:

          Just when you think you have the punctuation pegged you find something new… Apparently, a colon followed immediately by a parenthesis does not appear, while other combinations (including the one with a period) does. Go figure. Well, so what if the floor creaks EW, I still like the new shack ; )

  19. chrisc says:

    Ap has updated the story a bit

    Kontogiannis’ attorney, Gregory O’Connell, said he was shocked by the government’s most recent evidence and asked the judge for time to speak with his client. The judge allowed Kontogiannis to stay in federal custody in New York until a hearing Dec. 17.

    The surgery delayed Monday’s sentencing for Kontogiannis, who pleaded guilty in February to laundering bribes to Cunningham from defense contractors Brent Wilkes and Mitch Wade. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

    Burns questioned the timing of last week’s surgery, which doctors had recommended for two years.

    “I think it’s more than coincidental,” the judge said. “It causes me to raise my eyebrows a little bit.”

    • bmaz says:

      “Kontogiannis’ attorney, Gregory O’Connell, said he was shocked by the government’s most recent evidence…” Right. Uh huh. It sure appears that either the “project” they were using TK on is over, or whatever it was that TK had on them to turn them into putty has been dislodged from his almost cold, dead hands (as Charlton Heston would say about his gun) through some kind of black bag job. The winds have sure shifted.

  20. chrisc says:

    And from NCT

    Thomas Kontogiannis, an international businessman who admitting laundering bribe money for Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham, will be going to jail as soon as he is medically cleared after heart surgery last week, a federal judge ordered Monday morning.

    Raising concerns that the Greek immigrant might be a flight risk, U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns issued a no-bail warrant for Kontogiannis’ arrest, pending his sentencing hearing.

    Burns said prosecutors – who want Kontogiannis jailed for 10 years for his role in the Cunningham scheme – had presented “clear and convincing evidence” that Kontogiannis had continued running an unrelated $100 million mortgage fraud scam well after he’d pleaded guilty in the Cunningham case.

    “If he’s out of the hospital, he’s going to be in some type of federal custody,” Burns said in court. “He’s not going to go home, and he is not going to be left to his own devices.”

    Well at least somebody reported on K’s contribution to the shitpile correctly- maybe he reads your blogs, Marcy.

  21. BlueStateRedHead says:

    Can someone explain to me how unusual is it for him to have received his previous probations? did he have protectors all along and if so what could he have been doing back then –don’t remember details, but EW will–to make him worthy of being special?

    BTW, was there an electoral thing in Queens NY that he was involved in as well.

    • bmaz says:

      BSRH – I don’t know if you remember the conversation we had some time ago at the old site, but I find the treatment of TK over the years to be extraordinary and mind boggling. A criminal defendant simply cannot commit repetitive crimes while on pre-trial release or while under post-conviction supervision such as probation, home arrest or parole and not get hammered by the Feds and the court. TK consistently, however, has done just that. My original theory was that the Feds got in so deep with TK, on a number of fronts, that it became embarrassing and they couldn’t afford to have him squawking about it, so they placated him. TK is a con man extraordinaire, and many of the leaders in the Bush DOJ are as dumb and inexperienced as a stump. He may have sold them several bill of goods and they were stuck until they finally reached a breaking point. Now, I don’t know. That is still the best general theory I have, but I just don’t know now.

  22. BlueStateRedHead says:

    1. here is a link to the Muck’s coverage:….._kontogia/

    2. the times on the posts are in any old order for me. unless some are EST and PST.

    anyway, this is for anyone who is still here.
    and pfred, hi, if you are one of them.

    • phred says:

      Hiya BSRH —

      I can’t help myself, I do peek in on older threads, all sorts of interesting things turn up. bmaz, EW, or any of our lawyer chums can do a better job of this than I can, but the question you ask above is the heart of the puzzle. Apparently, Special K has been helping out the feds doing something (what that is exactly, we don’t know). As a result, he’s been handled with kid gloves by the legal system, in spite of his chronic law breaking. Meanwhile, he’s been involved with USAs in both NY and San Diego, and it appears that those two sets of lawyers haven’t been keeping tabs on each other with respect to Special K, which allowed him to take a swanky little trip to Greece, while his passport was hypothetically confiscated. This has evidently frosted Judge Burns who appears to be feeling ill-used and is ready to throw the book at Special K. Apparently those who have covered SK’s keister all these years have either withdrawn their support or run out of plausible excuses, so our favorite convict appears to be headed for the inside of a cell. We’ll see… I hope this helps, but if I were you, I’d pop back over to TNH and peruse the archives. bmaz, Mary, and LHP iirc discussed the legal ins and outs of cooperating witnesses pretty thoroughly there.