My Guess on Kontogiannis
Tomorrow morning, three judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appealswill gather in a courtroom inside an elegant 104-year-old building inPasadena for an extraordinary hearing involving one of theco-conspirators in the Randy â€œDukeâ€ Cunningham bribery scandal.
The court hearing will be closed to everyone â€“ the public, the newsmedia, the defense attorneys â€“ save for the judges and a few lawyersfrom the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The extreme secrecy is highly unusual. Veteran lawyers couldnot remember another time when the appeals court held a completelyclosed hearing.
The subjects to be discussed are transcripts and documentsrelated to the February guilty plea of Thomas Kontogiannis, a New Yorkdeveloper who admitted to a single count of money laundering in theCunningham case. Kontogiannis’ checkered past includes convictions forbribery and bid-rigging, an estimated $70 million fortune, and a knackfor staying out of prison.
Now, the problem here, for District Court Larry Burns is that the government didn’t say the contents of those hearings were classified until recently. Which is why we’re at the Appeals Court in the first place.