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May 22, 2024

Feds continue to probe other matters involving Kosta Diamantis

SHAHRZAD RASEKH / CT MIRROR Former Connecticut lawmaker and deputy budget director Konstantinos “Kosta” Diamantis exits the U.S. District Court in Hartford after being charged with 22 counts. His attorney, Vincent Provenzano, walks ahead of him.

Federal prosecutors took a major step last week when they charged Konstantinos Diamantis, the former director of Connecticut’s school construction office, with allegedly extorting and accepting bribes from a pair of construction companies.

But even as federal authorities were preparing that indictment against Diamantis, the FBI was continuing to investigate a matter involving a Bristol eye doctor, an audit that was uncharacteristically cancelled and a $600,000 check that Diamantis helped hand-deliver to the state’s Medicaid agency.

A lawyer assisting Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration with responding to federal subpoenas acknowledged this week that the FBI recently demanded records from the state Department of Social Services — the state’s Medicaid agency — regarding Helen Zervas and her optometry practice, Family Eye Care.

The Connecticut Mirror published a story on Feb. 11 that detailed how Zervas had a pre-scheduled audit of her practice cancelled after voluntarily returning money to the state’s Medicaid program.

Records reviewed by the CT Mirror show that audit was set aside after Diamantis and former state Democratic lawmaker Chris Ziogas — Zervas’ fiancé — hand-delivered a nearly $600,000 check to DSS headquarters to repay the state for Medicaid services that Zervas admittedly never performed.

Then, on April 18, the CT Mirror reported that Zervas’ was the only audit of self-reported Medicaid overpayments that was cancelled since at least mid-2017.

Federal law enforcement officials followed up with DSS the day after that story published seeking the same records that the CT Mirror used to confirm its reporting, sources said.

The request for those Medicaid records suggests that the investigation into Diamantis, who served in one of the highest positions in state government, may not end with his indictment for allegedly extorting school construction companies.

DSS spokeswoman Christine Stuart said Tuesday that she could not comment on the FBI’s request for the records related to Zervas and Family Eye Care due to the federal investigation.

“As there may be an ongoing investigation, as previously reported, the department is unable to comment further at this time,” Stuart said.

Zervas could not be reached for this story on Tuesday. And Diamantis’ attorney, Vincent Provenzano, declined to comment.

Several grand jury subpoenas obtained by the CT Mirror earlier this year show the federal probe into Diamantis and the school construction program branched off at some point in 2023 into a related investigation into Zervas and the check Diamantis delivered on her behalf.

To this point, the state has received at least four subpoenas related to Zervas and the state’s Medicaid program. That included demands for emails and telephone logs from DSS employees and records indicating who swiped into and out of the DSS office on Farmington Avenue in Hartford.

Another subpoena issued to the Office of Legislative Management also sought five months’ worth of emails from Ziogas, who represented Bristol in the General Assembly from 2017 to 2022.

Those emails revealed that Diamantis helped to deliver Zervas’ check to DSS officials in early 2020.

Diamantis previously told the CT Mirror, prior to his arrest, that he did not intervene in the state’s Medicaid program or pressure DSS officials into dropping the planned audit of Zervas’ optometry practice.

Diamantis said he personally delivered the $599,810 check, during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a favor for Zervas, whom he knew from his church.

Even so, federal investigators continue to show an interest in that financial transaction and the corresponding decision to cancel the the pre-scheduled audit.

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