Birch Grove Primary School in Tolland. The school's construction project is at the center of a federal investigation into potential corruption with Connecticut's school construction grant program. Yehyun Kim / ctmirror.org

In an indication that a federal grand jury is focusing its attention on specific school building projects, the town of Tolland on Thursday received a subpoena for records and correspondence with state officials surrounding the new Birch Grove Primary School project.

The 14-page subpoena seeks records from 2015 to the present “identifying all Office of School Construction Grants & Review (OSCG&R) projects in Tolland; all communications with or related to Konstantinos Diamantis or any other employee of OSCG&R; all documents related to any OSCG&R project at Birch Grove Primary School.”

[The Kosta Diamantis timeline]

The elementary school was built after the state Department of Administrative Services granted it emergency status, on Jan. 18, 2018, because of a report that its foundation was crumbling. The school was eventually built by D’Amato Construction of Bristol.

The construction manager on the project was Construction Advocacy Professionals (CAP), which hired Anastasia Diamantis, Kosta Diamantis’ daughter, while receiving two contracts worth a combined $530,000 to oversee the Birch Grove project.

The grand jury issued a subpoena to the state in October seeking emails and texts by Diamantis from January 2018 until he left state service last October. Among the search words that they asked state officials to find were Construction Advocacy Services, D’Amato Construction and Birch Grove.

Six days later, Tolland school officials attended the first meeting about the project at DAS offices. Among those in attendance were Edward D’Amato and Tony D’Amato, who oversaw the construction of the Tolland school. Diamantis and another member of his team, Robert Celmer, were at the meeting, as were several Tolland officials.

The existence of the Jan. 24, 2018, meeting was first reported by columnist Kevin Rennie.

The Connecticut Mirror has obtained portions of that meeting agenda, which was called to discuss the scope of the project and how much of the cost the state would cover. At that meeting, Diamantis indicated the state would cover 54% of the project. 

The state ended up paying 89% of the $46 million to build the new school and 100% of the $9 million to install portable classrooms on the site so classes could be conducted while the old building was demolished and a new one built in its place.

Among those present at the meeting was Tolland Superintendent Walter Willett, who has not returned calls from the CT Mirror.

In a statement to The Courant, Willett alleged that local officials in Tolland were pressured by Diamantis to choose D’Amato Construction and CAP for the school construction project. 

“Representatives of the town and the board felt they had no real choice as to CAP and D’Amato because Mr. Diamantis routinely emphasized there would be detrimental effects to the project if Tolland chose contractors or consultants other than CAP or D’Amato,” he said, according to the statement provided to The Courant. 

Because the project was granted emergency status, the town did not have to go out to bid for a general contractor or a construction manager.

The state eventually approved a $46 million project that increased by $2 million when an issue arose with the soil under where the new school was to be built. Diamantis eventually told town officials the state would cover the costs of the soil removal.

Tolland officials hired CAP, based in Plainfield, to first oversee installation of portable classrooms at the Birch Grove Primary School on June 20, 2019, according to contracts obtained by the CT Mirror. They were paid $70,000 for the work. 

Then, in July 2019, CAP hired Diamantis’ daughter Anastasia, documents state.

Weeks later, a contract amendment, giving CAP another $460,000 worth of work, was signed on Sept. 18, 2019, for the construction of a new Birch Grove school.

According to statements included in a recent report compiled by former U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy Jr., Anastasia Diamantis told investigators that the owner of CAP “called her out of the blue and offered her the job.” 

She described CAP as a Rhode Island-based company. But she also acknowledged that she did work on school projects in Connecticut for CAP. Anastasia said “she worked on spreadsheets and did filings for CAP,” according to the investigation report.

Twardy was hired by the state to probe how Anastasia Diamantis came to get a job as an executive assistant to Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo at the same time Colangelo was lobbying her father for pay raises for himself and other state’s attorney’s.

Twardy was hired after Kosta Diamantis was fired as Deputy Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management by Gov. Ned Lamont.

Diamantis retired as head of the OSCG&R team rather than be placed on administrative leave. He has since filed a secret grievance trying to get his job back.

Colangelo resigned his position last month and Anastasia Diamantis was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the federal grand jury probe. 

Dave does in-depth investigative reporting for CT Mirror. His work focuses on government accountability including financial oversight, abuse of power, corruption, safety monitoring, and compliance with law. Before joining CT Mirror Altimari spent 23 years at the Hartford Courant breaking some of the state’s biggest, most impactful investigative stories.