In re: Mr. Colangelo: Unanswered Questions

Public service is thankless, and nowhere so much so as in Hartford, where good men and women go to battle ceaselessly over crumbs. Rarely do people ascend the political heights that Hartford has to offer to enhance their reputations – what has that anthill to offer? But good men’s reputations are ruined there.

Ask Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo, now accused in various newspapers around the state of nepotism, corruption and dereliction of duty. His bosses at the Criminal Justice Commission are said to be researching how to force him from office. The governor has made it clear that Mr. Colangelo ought to go. Dwarves wearing faux shark fins on their backs wade in cesspools hoping for ascension.

Why? Because a trial brief masquerading as a fact-finder’s report concluded that Mr. Colangelo wasn’t candid when he couldn’t recall dates of various meetings.

The report’s author, former federal prosecutor Stanley Twardy, opined that Mr. Colangelo was a liar. Well, case closed then. We can’t have a liar atop the state’s prosecutorial pyramid.

I read Mr. Twardy’s 40-plus page fact-finding report with a dawning sense of familiarity. This was not report to others about what facts were and were not available on which to make a decision. It read like a post-trial brief, an advocate’s argument on the case he or she wanted to make.

At issue was determining the circumstances under which Mr. Colangelo offered a young woman a job. Did he do so as part of an effort to influence her father, Konstantinos Diamantis, to use his influence in state government to approve raises for non-unionized prosecutors? (I represent Mr. Diamantis in this matter.)

Reading Mr. Twardy’s report sure makes it look that way. After all, the record is not entirely clear when Mr. Colangelo met the young woman. Was it at a May 2020 soiree at a restaurant? Mr. Twardy accuses Mr. Colangelo of changing his tune when confronted with the statements of others about the meeting. I’d like to see a transcript of the interview with Mr. Colangelo. Sometimes recollections are refreshed with additional information. What sort of humorless prick keeps a calendar recording every social engagement?

And just why was Mr. Twardy, a so-called independent investigator, accompanied at several key interviews by the governor’s lawyer, another former federal prosecutor named Nora Danahey? Facts are discovered after honest inquiry; advocates burnish the record, and nudge in the direction of inferences favorable to their side. Ms. Danahey’s attendance at interviews calls into question the independence of the process.

And just who is the anonymous prosecutor whose notes were given to Mr. Twardy, and to which Mr. Twardy’s report makes copious reference? Think about it for a moment. Prosecutors have a duty to see to it that justice is done. Are we really to believe that a senior state’s attorney attended meetings in which dirty deeds were done, and kept silent about it? If Mr. Colangelo is to offer his scalp, then, I suggest, another head is required.

One would be forgiven the impression that a rival of Mr. Colangelo’s lay in wait, scribbling notes about all he or she saw or heard, saving these nuggets for the express purpose of some day appearing with the hypocrite’s leer – “What a good boy – or girl – am I?” Don’t drink from the water coolers in the Chief State’s Attorney’s office – quislings poison them.

Why keep your star witness under wraps in your trial brief, Mr. Twardy? Is it that should the source be known, insiders would conclude, immediately, that there are serious credibility issues about the witness?

I get it. The appearance of impropriety matters. Mr. Colangelo has been to look like he offered a job to the daughter of a man for the most venal of reasons – a raise. Savvy prosecutors should know better than to even appear to be in such a situation. Mr. Colangelo’s predecessor, Kevin Kane, would never have found himself in such a position.

I’ve studied the record. Here’s what I know.

He was a new chief state’s attorney.

The non-unionized members of his division had not received wages to keep pace with their unionized subordinates. As a result, there was an asymmetry in the pay scales. Some junior prosecutors were making more – are making more – than their bosses. Mr. Colangelo wanted to correct that. Mr. Colangelo was a newcomer in Hartford. He worked the administrative back offices trying to figure out how to get these raises. He was also new to statewide office. He traveled throughout the state to plead his division’s case and to expand the influence he could bring to bear on behalf of prosecutors statewide. This is all appropriate.

Along the way, he met a young woman to whom he offered a position he was free to offer – executive assistants are unclassified positions. There are no civil service requirements for the job. That woman was the daughter of an official who could help him get the raises he sought.

It’s a long way from this fact-pattern to nepotism and quid pro quo corruption.

But appearances matter, and someone, I suspect the anonymous author of the notes relied on by Mr. Twardy, called a newspaper columnist. That columnist thought he had Deep Throat on the line, and decided he was the Nutmeg State’s very own Bob Woodward.

Scandal. Corruption. The Fourth Estate saving the republic.

Except it wasn’t in this case. It was the sort of tedious swill that breaks good men and women in Hartford.

Governor Ned Lamont’s initial press release got it right: This was a tempest in a tea pot and should have been dealt with by means of minor policy changes. But then came news of a federal grand jury looking perhaps too closely in the direction of the Lamont administration. Within 24 hours, the governor was calling for Mr. Colangelo’s head, perhaps hoping that a scapegoat would deflect attention.

Odds are we’ve lost Mr. Colangelo. I’m betting he resigns before the Criminal Justice Commission convenes a hearing. That’s too bad. I’d like to see the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth come out. I’d like to see the trial brief on behalf of Mr. Colangelo, the one written without the influence of the governor’s lawyer.

Good men go to die ignominious deaths in Hartford. And for what?

Comments: (5)

  • Really?
    Exactly which "junior prosecutors" make more than the 13 states attorneys Colangelo was stumping for (plus their state cars and unlimited "work from home," vacation, and sick time)? And how many years have these "junior" prosecutors been in state service? 10 year veteran prosecutors make less than your client's daughter whose main job duties appear to be sending out e-mails letting people know they have a BJs discount and passing out the sandwiches at the supervisor's trainings. Not saying there isn't plenty of stink here to discuss. But let's not make it sound like the State's Attorneys are hurting for cash, or that prosecutors are dining on lobster tail and caviar.
    Posted on February 7, 2022 at 9:01 am by really, norm?
  • Completely biased.
    This article is so completely biased it’s hard to even read. You’re clearly only worried about your client’s interests, which makes you writing about the topic useless. Keep trying to get your client off while his daughter is still working at the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office where she plays on her phone all day, making more than 10 year veteran prosecutors. Disgusting.
    Posted on February 8, 2022 at 12:27 pm by Grain of Salt
  • Salaries
    You should get your facts straight. More than half the prosecutors, who have worked many years make far less than $100,000. They also carry tremendous debt. While I’m sure Ms. Diamantis is educated she has no legal experience nor any in grant writing and she now makes over $100,000. It is an insult to every “junior” prosecutor.
    Posted on February 8, 2022 at 3:56 pm by Insulted
  • Bachtach
    Norm. You are a piece of shit. Your shennanigans in Dulos gave the whole profession a bad smell. Dulos killed himself to escape you!
    Posted on February 9, 2022 at 3:41 pm by Jonathan
  • Handwritten Notes
    An observer worth his salt can quickly infer that the likely taker of the handwritten notes reproduced by Attorney Twardy is likely Deputy Chief State's Attorney Kevin Lawlor. This is the same Atty. Lawlor with whom Atty. Colangelo competed for the Chief State's Attorney position and who had conflicts with Atty. Colangelo after his appointment to the Chief State's Attorney position--a fact noted at the time by the newspapers. The public deserves to know if Atty. Lawlor was the primary source for Kevin Rennie's columns about Atty. Colangelo, as this is important context. According to the SPJ Code of Ethics, journalists are to: – Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources. – Consider sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Explain why anonymity was granted. Reuters likewise requires journalists to: Be honest in sourcing and in obtaining information. Give as much context and detail as you can about sources, whether named or anonymous, to authenticate information they provide. Be explicit about what you don’t know. If Atty. Lawlor was Rennie's source, the public was deprived of an opportunity to evaluate the reliability and motivation of his source. Suddenly, the handwritten notes cease to constitute the independent corroboration that they otherwise might appear to be, as they emanate from the same source as the column. The fact that no journalist could put these pieces together is a sorry commentary upon the state of journalism in Connecticut, particularly given that I was able to connect these dots even though I live hours away from Connecticut.
    Posted on February 10, 2022 at 12:10 am by Deep Nutmeg

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