A Grimm February Ends With One More Negative Headline

A tweet yesterday by the Politicker’s Colin Campbell brought our attention to an additional Rep. Michael Grimm headline that made the DCCC website’s now-infamous Grimm page.

It seems that prior to becoming a Congressman – and after leaving the FBI – Grimm tried to persuade a federal sentencing judge to show leniency to a New York developer with three bribery-related convictions, according to the Daily News.

Developer and reputed New York crime figure Thomas Kontogiannis was facing eight years for taking part in funneling a $1 million bribe to disgraced former California Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham.

In a three page letter, Grimm pleaded with California Federal Judge Lawrence Burns to “grant (Kontogiannis) a noncustodial sentence”

From the News:

“I can say unequivocally that I performed all such duties — including interactions with witnesses, cooperators and informants — in full conformance with FBI and (Justice Department) policies and applicable law,” (Grimm) wrote. “The reality is that undercover officers and agents, as I was, have to work with criminals and deal with bad people regularly in the course of effectively investigating and ultimately enforcing the law.”

But when reporters sought to discover which decade-old cases the shady developer – known as Tommy K. since emigrating to the United States from Greece in the 1970’s – had helped in, the FBI didn’t seem very talkative.

The Bureau’s response may have something to do with Mr. K’s past:

  • In 1993, Kontogiannis was charged by the Brooklyn office of the U.S. attorney for bribing an American embassy employee in an attempt to acquire travel visas. Kontogiannis, whose net worth is estimated at close to $300 million, was sentenced to five years’ probation and $20,000 in fines and restitution.
  • In 2000, the Queens district attorney charged Kontogiannis and four others with bid-rigging and bribery conspiracy involving contracts for supplying computers to public schools. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor fraud and received a conditional discharge.
  • Then, in 2005, federal authorities began investigating Cunningham, an eight-term congressman on the committee in charge of defense funding. The probe revealed that two contractors had given Cunningham more than $2 million in exchange for help winning defense contracts.

In his sentencing pitch, Grimm asserted that he met Kontogiannis through “mutual friends” an FBI agent, and that their initial acquaintance was “purely social.” Later, he told the judge, “the relationship merged” with Grimm’s work as an undercover agent.

Do you think Grimm was merely using Kontogiannis to help catch bad guys?

Undercover law enforcement personnel have been known to “go native,” or begin to think of themselves as a bona fide member of the criminal organization they’re infiltrating. It’s a condition particularly common in drug and organized crime investigations.

Rep. Michael Grimm represents New York’s 13th Congressional District, which includes all of Staten Island. In Brooklyn, the 13th District includes parts of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Gravesend.