Right after the Thanksgiving holidays, California Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham gave a heatfelt teary eyed confession and he would also resign from Congress after pleading guilty to taking more than “$2.4 million in illicit payments and benefits from his Coconspirators in various forms, including cash, checks, meals, travel, lodging, furnishings, antiques, rugs, yacht club fees, boat repairs and improvements, moving expenses, cars, and boats.”
The unraveling began in June 2005, when the San Diego Union Tribune broke a news story regarding an apparent bribe to a very conservative Republican Congressman from California, Randy “Duke” Cunningham. According to this report, it seems that a front company for MZM, Inc. chief Mitchell Wade bought a house from Representative Cunningham that hadn’t been put on public market even though Mr. Wade wasn’t looking to live there. It was a quiet, quick, private deal. This deal also involved Thomas Kontogiannis, Long Island Real Estate Developer and Kontogiannis wife’s nephew John T. Michael, president of Coastal Capital.
In 2002, before Kontogiannis purchased the congressman’s flat-bottom riverboat, the Kelly C, Kontogiannis was pleading guilty in a bribery, kickback and contract-rigging scandal and pay-offs totaling roughly a million dollars to Queens school superintendent Celestine Miller, including some $80,000 into the coffers of her failed congressional bid in 1998.
Celestine Miller, a one-time Queens school superintendent, and her husband William Harris, were charged with taking some $1 million in bribes which included
several European trips, two houses, four phony mortgages, personal checks, paid credit card bills, $80,000 in contributions to “Friends of Celestine Miller” – for her failed 1998 Republican congressional campaign, and $50,000 in cash, which was handed in a brown paper bag.
At this point things turn from the normal to some bizzaro made for tv movie. As Kontogiannis was about to be convicted, he was seeking advice from Cunningham about getting a Presidential pardon. It was at that time Cunningham remembered Kontogiannis had always wanted the Kelly C, so Cunningham sold the boat Kontogiannis for $600,000. Even though Cunningham purchased in 1997 for $200,000 from Alabama Rep. Sonny Callahan. Therefore, making a $400,000 profit . That is not the end of it. According to Josh Marshal, Talking Points Memo, after pouring about $100,000 into Kelly C, Kontogiannis decided he didn’t really want the boat after all so Cunningham bought back the boat. Which is the reason Kontogiannis never changed the title on the boat from Cunningham’s name to his.
Then in late 2003, Cunningham bought a $2.55 million home in Rancho Santa Fe. Cunningham then asked Kontogiannis if Coastal Capital, the mortgage company owned by his daughter and wife’s nephew, could finance $1.1 million in mortgages. The congressman bought the new house soon after Mitchell Wade, MZM’s Washington defense contractor, paid $1.675 million for Cunningham’s old Del Mar home. Like Kontogiannis, Wade also decided he didn’t want to keep the house so he sold it for a $700,000 loss. The money Kontogiannis still owed to Cunningham for the boat, Kontogiannis used it to pay off the $500,000 Cunningham owed on the second mortgage on the Rancho Santa Fe home.
Kontogiannis relationship with Cunningham goes back 15 years according to the Washington Post.
Kontogiannis, who said he served in the Greek navy before coming to the United States in 1970, said he met Cunningham at a Washington function about 15 years ago. They talk a couple of times a year, he said. Cunningham was a Navy fighter pilot and an instructor at its Top Gun flight school.
In Cunningham’s travel portion of his 2005 report, Cunningham reported going on two trips from Washington to Saudi Arabia with return trips to San Diego. The first trip was between April 3-8, 2003, the second between Dec. 9 and Dec.14. The trips were not paid by Kontogiannis, but by San Diego real estate developer Ziyad Abduljawad, chairman of PLC Land Co. Union-Tribune reported that Kontogiannis went on the same trip as the congressman. They reported:
In a previously undisclosed link between Cunningham and Kontogiannis, the developer accompanied the congressman to Saudi Arabia last year. A Saudi-American businessman flew Cunningham to Saudi Arabia twice last year aboard a private jet. On the second trip, the jet stopped in Athens to pick up Kontogiannis, a native of Greece with businesses interests in several countries.
Ziyad Abduljawad, founder and chairman of San Diego-based PLC Land Co., paid for Cunningham’s two trips to Saudi Arabia, each at a cost of more than $10,000. Cunningham has described Abduljawad as an acquaintance who shares his interest in improving U.S.-Saudi relations.
Kontogiannis “went as a friend of Duke’s,” said Harmony Allen, Cunningham’s chief of staff. “That’s the extent of it. Duke asked him to go as a friend. I’m not sure if (Kontogiannis) had a special interest (in visiting) Saudi Arabia or not.”
It was unclear who paid for Kontogiannis’ trip.
Who is Ziyad Abduljawad? According to San Diego Reader, Ken Calvert joined Cunningham on the December 9 trip. On Calvert’s disclosure form, Calvert states “Due to security risks, I stayed in a private home where meals were provided. Below is my best estimate about expenses.” He estimated his expenses at $10,790, which happens to by the same amount as Cunningham. The Reader also reported:
Ziyad, a naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Newport Beach, is a member of the kingdom’s wealthy Abduljawad family, which has its fingers into everything from home development in Orange County to high-tech electronics ventures. Reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission show that Ziyad controls the shares of an outfit called Ellumina, LLC, which in turn has been in another venture with BridgeWest, LLC, run by Massih Tayebi, a big donor to the cause of San Diego Republicans such as Mayor Dick Murphy.
The venture the Reader is referring is in regards to the large number of stocks Tayebi and Ziyad own in San Diego’s SYS Technologies.
SYS Technologies is a leading provider of information and communications systems for the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and Industrial markets. SYS Technologies’ expertise is in real time sensor capture, communications, applications development, integration and data visualization which forms the basis of its current success and future growth.
For the Department of Defense (DoD), we provide command and control systems to operational commanders. For the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and various state agencies, we provide real-time safety and security products and services, including sensor networking products and end-to-end solutions. For large industrial customers in the telecommunications, utilities, construction, chemical, and biomedical industries, our products and services are used to intelligently and profitably manage remote assets.
SYS Technologies is headquartered in San Diego at 5050 Murphy Canyon Road, San Diego, CA 92123 and has principal offices in California, Virginia and Washington, DC. For additional information, visit the SYS Technologies web site at http://www.systechnologies.com.
According to a recent press release, Ken Regan, President of SYS Technologies’ Defense Solutions Group announced that SYS was just awarded a $1.1 million subcontract by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).
The question still not answered, what is Kontogiannis connection to Mitchell Wade or Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes? Is there a link between Abduljawad, Wade, and Wilkes? What other connections does Abduljawad have with Saudi Arabia? What is Ellimina LLC or BridgeWest? All these companies are located in the San Diego area, are any of them connected with the Able Danger program and Mohammad Atta?
Stay tune folks, as Dukegate continues to unfold.
Cross posted on ePluribus Media