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September 05, 2007

Comments

Teri Figueroa from the North County Times also has a story up. (Although this story appears to only be covered locally.)

Two weeks ago, the North County Times tracked Kontogiannis to a five-star hotel in Greece, where he answered a phone call to his hotel room, then sharply referred all questions to his attorney.

If anyone is wondering how the NCT found out where K was staying, I think there is a hint in the Greek Jerry Springer show going on at TPM.
Someone from "the family" is talking to the press- trying to get out some of the same details that were included in John T. Michael's request for dismissal: K is running a "mortgage Ponzi" scheme under the fed's noses and that he was vacationing in Greece after turning over one of his 5 passports to the feds.

Kontogiannis is looking less and less like a quality witness against his nephew and Wilkes.

"After today, I would be very surprised if this person gets called as a witness in this case," Burns said Tuesday after hearing from Michael's attorney, Ray Granger.

The NCT article also mentioned that it was unclear if Cunningham would testify for the government. Other than Mitchell Wade, who hasn't been mentioned at all recently, I do not know who would be testifying for the gov.

So, Carol Lam gets fired. And one of the 2 related cases she was working on gets very weak.

chrisc

I don't think this weakens the case against Wilkes at all, and it probably doesn't weaken the case against Michael fatally.

Michael's point, I think, is not to win an acquittal on the evidence. It's to threaten to expose the stuff Tommy K is doing so as to embarrass the govt and his handlers (remember his comment about K saying more than just that he owned Halpern). The govt may decide his blabbing is getting too costly--though he's not close to that yet. But barring that, they've still got an abundance of evidence against him.

EW,
If Michael claims that someone else forged the mortgage docs, then won't the gov be forced to prove he knew it was fraud? Without K's testimoney, how will they nail Michael?

emptywheel

Nothing to do with the case's pros or cons-

What do the people here on the TNH have against taking vacation?

Seems awful petty to me.

Well, it sure may not be fatal, but it certainly could be critical, if they don't call TK. Lets assume the Government gets to trial and makes it past their half of the case without being bounced on a motion for directed verdict; what is to stop Michael's defense from putting TK on the stand and inquiring not only about the facts, but his credibility? I grant that it is unusual for a party to impeach his own witness, but believe me it has been done. I don't think that, at this point, Burns is going to be inclined to stop just such an attempt either. These are the nice little things that can come from a motion like Michaels filed, even if it is denied.

One other thing. Every time that i have had clients that committed serious crimes while they were on probation or pre-trial release, as TK has clearly done, they were taken into custody when they entered their plea, because at least some prison time was mandatory. Special K on the other hand goes on a Greek vacation with a private escort of Fed agents. Go figure.

Jodi,
Sometimes your comments seem indicate that you have difficult time with comprehending what is written. There is nothing in the story or my comments that indicate anyone is against "taking vacation." The discussion is about whether Kontogiannis is a credible witness. Since he surrendered his passport to the feds, he shouldn't be taking a trip at all. Now, if he went on a trip with their permission because he had some important business, then the fact that he was vacationing is evidence that he was scamming the feds.

Kontogiannis has pleaded guilty to a crime and there were conditions on his release. It is "awful" if he violates those conditions.

TPMMuckraker had some really interesting comments a couple of days back about this whole Greek trip thing.

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004052.php#comments

Some posts there indicated that the family takes a yacht trip every year - big expensive trip - and that is the trip K was on when the paper tracked him to the pricey hotel.

They also indicated that the feds didn't even know he went on the trip and that he has some additional passports to the one that he gave up to the court. None of it may be true - but it was sure an interesting read - not all of these are consecutive, but they are the ones that added some info about the trip:

To above the Feds sent him and 28 other family members 1st. class and on a private YACHT at 30,000 a day! I think it was his last party before he goes to Marion. P.S. T.K. should of stayed in Greece Inter Cont. is nicer. Posted by: Date: September 2, 2007 12:10 PM

He absolutely went to Greece with his family.
Posted by:
Date: September 2, 2007 3:21 PM
________________________________________

The family goes away on a yacht every year. I was surprised they let him go.
Posted by: former insider
Date: September 2, 2007 6:54 PM
________________________________________
Mary I didn't say the feds paid for the trip they didn't even know he was there.He turned in his U.S. passport but he had 4 others don't forget in various names.He's been stealing peoples idenity for years.
Posted by:
Date: September 2, 2007 9:31 PM

Sorry - left off this one, which started some of the back and forth:

Greece wants nothing to do with him. When he went to Greece he did not go for pleasure with his daughters. Feds sent him there, who else is allowed to travel when they are going to trial in Nov?

Posted by:
Date: September 2, 2007 9:38 AM

That was why I was trying to clarify if the same person had put up the two anonymous posts saying a) he didn't go for pleasure iwth his daughters - the Feds sent him and b)the feds sent him and 28 family members went on the yacht at 30,000/day.

From the comments, it looks like it ought to be "relatively" ez for a reporter or the court to discover if the family has had a history of such trips and if gov let him go on this one. The comments were all over the place on the feds involvement, but there seemed to be a thread that this was a family trip - not just a K trip. If that was true and with K's nephew up on charges - makes you wonder what they all talked about.

If I was Michaels I would list him as a defense witness and file a motion for determination of release conditions alleging that I considered him a potentially critical defense witness and seeking the court to review his conditions of release in light of the fact that TK clearly seems to be violating them. Now Michaels arguably doesn't have standing for that inquiry, but i think it would force the court to make it's own determination or look silly. Kontogiannis is a walking, talking, Greek vacationing clusterfuck for the government. They have huge problems with this guy. At the rate his defense is going, the govenment is going to offer a plea so favorable that he has to take it. You can just smell it coming. It just keeps getting better and better for Michael's defense.

chrisc,

the heading of the thread is "Tommy K's Greek Vacation."

Nowhere did it indicate that he had fled the country? It did seem that the left hand of the Government (no pun there) didn't know what the right one was doing.

The man is on bail. Why can't he take a vacation? Maybe he is helping fight the fires in Greece, or helping rescue people in the floods with his Yacht's dingy.

Leave him alone until he breaks the law, and stop griping about vacation all the time.

troll, you're still missing the point. Go back to the top, and read it again.

Tommy K is under indictment, has turned in a passport, and is still able to go on a foreign vactaion.
This means either he has the Feds keeping a close eye on him (like sending a couple of them along), or he has more than one passport and didn't come clean to the court about it.
(Not to mention: why would he need more than one US passport?)

One other thing, If Michaels keeps playing this right, not only will he get a plea so good he can't pass it up, he stands a fair chance of it being one of those "Alice Fisher Specials" where he doesn't need to cooperate on the record. Really, with the whole Kontogiannis mess lurking behind Michaels, they wouldn't want to inject him in any other case anyway. Not on the record anyway.

bmaz - defense witness - hehe. I like that.

It was pretty clear from the plea stuff that the Michaels/Wilkes/Foggo thing was an "also ran" as far as the feds involved were concerned. Judge Burns might have thought the case in front of him was important, but the feds either thought what K could give them otherwise was SO MUCH more important (to give benefit of the doubt and that's why I floated someone like Kassar) or that they really in their heart of hearts wouldn't mind using another case(s) to make this one less embarassing by contamininating the witness out.

The Griles/Fisher thing is really one of the highpoints for DOJ these days. At least he actually had a trial and was charged. The rest is all about cover ups using DOJ resources and creative speech/writing like the Siegelman "obstruction" and the "courts can only make secret case law" concepts.

Wouldn't it be nice to see a Judge like Keith and a case that goes up styled US v. USFSC? No Brennans left though.

Thank you Jodi. I understand now why we haven't been looking for Bin Laden for the last few years. Apparently there is a huge federal respect for "vactioning in Pashtun" that I never quite understood before.

I bet Bush even wants to let him have a chance to "replinish the old coffers" after the vacation.

My understanding is expanding exponentially.

Mary

nice! : )
It is a stretch, but still nice.

P J Evans,

you are missing the very point you are stating in your statement. I will bold it for you.

quote: "Tommy K is under indictment, has turned in a passport, and is still able to go on a foreign vactaion.
This means either he has the Feds keeping a close eye on him (like sending a couple of them along), or he has more than one passport and didn't come clean to the court about it.
(Not to mention: why would he need more than one US passport?)"

Sorry, in a hurry the lunch wagon is coming by. Hit the wrong button.


P J Evans,

you are missing the very point you are stating in your statement. I will bold it for you.

your quote: "Tommy K is under indictment, has turned in a passport, and is still able to go on a foreign vactaion.
This means either he has the Feds keeping a close eye on him (like sending a couple of them along), or he has more than one passport and didn't come clean to the court about it.
(Not to mention: why would he need more than one US passport?)"

The information is not yet in whether he violated his bail or the Federal requirments. For all we know they gave him back his passport for the trip. Or more likely he used his Greek Passport.


Well, yes, we are sure of that; the judge made it quite clear he had not given the passport back nor authorized a trip to Greece. And it is absolutely a direct violation of release conditions to leave the country without specific court permission.

Mary - left a comment and question for you on the "Scottish Haggis and Wide Stance" thread 2 up from here. Interested in your take...

Comments over at TPM indicate that another cousin gave statements to the government regarding John T. Michael. This cousin purportedly worked for Tommy K. The cousin has a criminal charge pending from an asault on his wife this summer. He's not looking like such a hot witness either.

bmaz,
Have you read the amicus brief filed by "The reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press?"
http://www.rcfp.org/news/documents/20070718-amicusbrie.pdf
IANAL, but the fact that Lam was fired, that the FBI agent in charge in San Diego retired after making comments about Lam's firing- and all the funny secrecy surrounding this case makes me wonder what is being kept secret and why it is being kept secret. I can't trust that there is not some political cause that is trumping national security as the reason.

Kontogiannis' first sealed plea was later replaced by a different sealed plea which was unsealed later. Was the original sealed plea ever made public?

On the first plea; I don't know, my guess is it was withdrawn and therefore never unsealed and made public. Yes I looked at the consortium brief some time back. It seemed fine for what they were trying to accomplish. You have seen my thoughts on what is going on before; they haven't changed. I think you can take it to the bank that htere is some overriding political reason somewhere here. If TK got to close to national security, it is because he conned some pol into letting him there.

SDUT updated the story a bit

Kontogiannis was believed to be cooperating with government investigators and was expected to testify. Pressed by Burns yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Valerie Chu said that if the case is going well, the government would “probably not” call Kontogiannis to the stand.

But she qualified that by saying prosecutors would not rule out the possibility that Kontogiannis would testify.

Granger still hammered away at Kontogiannis, presenting documents from New York that he said showed ongoing mortgage fraud by Kontogiannis. Burns, however, said there was no proof showing that San Diego prosecutors were aware of any ongoing fraud.

“You have ferreted this out,” Burns said to Granger. “But I don't find any evidence that the local prosecutor's office knew of ongoing criminal activity by Mr. Kontogiannis and turned a blind eye toward it. . . . What is missing is any evidence the government knew of this and let it go on.”

If there were any crimes, they would be in the jurisdiction of New York prosecutors, Burns said. He added that he could not dismiss the indictment under law controlling this federal district, and that any allegations could be raised by the defense when cross-examining Kontogiannis.

The FBI report clearly indicated that the agent thought K's businesses were for laundering money. It is strange that there would be no follow up on that.

The prosecutors still have a GIANT problem with TK. If they don't certify they are not calling him, they will be required to make disclosures at some point. As you approach trial, and get into it, i.e. after the presentation of the goverments witnesses, the government at different points is required to make Brady material, Jencks material and Giglio material disclosures. All fancy terms for inculpatory, exculpatory and impeachment material. Even if they manage to keep TK off the stand in their case in chief, which I am still not convinced of by any means, there is an awful lot of information regarding TK that would have to be disclosed in relation to other witnesses. I am not sure they will do it. The issue becomes further complicated if the defense calls TK and the prosecution witnesses him perjuring himself on the stand or refusing to answer questions; one ot the other of which is a very good bet. The government has a giant mess going here and the bleating that the SD locals don't know what the DOJ Main and NY guys have going isn't going to cut it at some point. If michaels attorneys keep poking sticks into the belly of the government's beast, something is going to give. I just don't see how the government can complete a full trial without reversible error and get a clean conviction; they are playing out the string admirably so far, but the wheels are going to come off here somewhere.

bmaz,

then I would expect a bench warrant or some such to issued, and Interpol to be alerted to picke up the fugitive.

Otherwise, I would think you are incorrect and it is all slapstick kneejerking, or similar to how the Bard would verse it a Tempest in the Teapot of your mind.

Jodi, you got a point there; but if you were to wear a giant hat, you could cover most of it up.

Ahh, the lawyer bmaz speaks.

When you have the law on your side, talk the law.
When you have the facts on your side, talk the facts.
When you have justice on your side, talk justice.

When you have none of the above, scream, insult, and beat the table.

I will not hold my breath waiting for the APB.

Jodi, you know, I really have nothing against you. But you to often make a comment just to annoy people here and be a pain in the ass. That is not cool. If you were at a lesser place, you would be taken apart limb by limb and then banned. Sometimes you have a cogent thought, irrespective of which side of the aisle it is emanating from, and that adds to the conversation. Most of the time just annoying drivel though; and you damn well know it. That is exceedingly lame, low life and really hard to repect. Your comment on a bench warrant is ill informed, impertinent and inane; then you tack on a measure of insulting crap. I could explain completely to you why you are completely in left field and don't have a clue what you are talking about; but, quite frankly, you are not worth it and you just don't give a damn anyway. As to your last comment, you again think you have made a bright use of an old saw; but, again, fall woefully short. People here repeatedly give you a chance and try to treat you as a reasonable person; and, yet, you spit in their face. It is truly a confounding and pathetic pattern of behavior for a human being that clearly has the education and skills to be so much better. I feel sorry for you.


.

bmaz, everytime shit stain jodi posts some inflammatory shit, i think about the four wireless digital cameras s/he has pointed at dear old bedridden grandma. it makes me laugh. i can't believe it's true but if it were, it would be completely offensive. shit stain is big liar. did you notice after months of having brothers serving in iraq that now it is one brother and one father. the fun and games never end nor the look at me bolding.

Neil,

1 father, a Military Doctor, was in Iraq, now at a base overseas.
1 younger of two brothers, also a Military Doctor, in Afghanistan, but he is out of the active Military now.
1 older brother, a Combat officer, currently in Iraq.

Do you want to talk about vpn's also Neil?

bmaz my point is simple. If the guy broke the law, then why aren't they going after him? Oh! The judge is going to have a hearing. Well, I will wait.

Jodi, the answer to your question (If the guy broke the law, then why aren't they going after him?) is in the updated SDUT account upthread. Judge Burns said that the reasons were:
1) San Diego USAs were unaware of ongoing criminal activity and
2) The criminal activity that Granger talked about would be under the jurisdiction of NY USAs.

Both bmaz and I have already moved the discussion on. Reread our comments and see if you can figure out what we are talking about. If you wanted to be part of that discussion, people here would welcome your comments- even if you disagreed. But you are like a 2 yr old who interrupts an adult conversation that s/he doesn't understand to get the attention of the group.

The purpose of this blog is not to nurture adults who act like 2 yr olds. I usually just ignore your comments/bad behavior- but today the comment was directed at me so I responded. Generally, someone takes the time to identify you as a troll for the sake of others who may be reading the blog who are not regular readers. Perhaps we will have to come up with some sort of "Do Not Feed the Trolls Sign" for you that we can post so that you cannot use this blog to feed your insatiable need for attention.

>Do Not Feed the TROLLS<

This one has an insatiable appetite for

"look at me!"

Ok, so is the guy going to be charged?

Or are these still accusations?

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