Saturday, July 09, 2005

Judged by the Company You Keep

Yesterday's revelation that Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham was involved in another beneficial real estate deal in 2002, got a new twist today. It turns out the the individual Duke purchased his Washington, DC area condo from had a Federal case pending when he cut the deal with Duke.

According to Talking Points Memo,

…it seems that Joseph M. Della Ratta may be another real estate developer trying to settle some misunderstandings with government prosecutors… Della Ratta and a colleague got nailed for raiding an ERISA asset management plan of which they served as trustees. In July 2003, says the [August 2003 Dept. of Labor] bulletin, a federal court "appointed an independent fiduciary to distribute all remaining plan assets of the profit sharing plans of Della Ratta, Inc. and Commercial Management Company in Silver Spring, Maryland.

So here is the bottom line on just Cunningham's Arlington condo deal. He buys the condo from a man being sued by the Federal government for illegaly diverting $166,000 from a profit sharing plan for which he was responsible. In order to obtain financing for the condo, Cunningham turns to a company associated with Thomas Kontogiannis,

… a Long Island real estate developer who'd recently been convicted in a bribery, kickback and contract-rigging scandal and who'd apparently, as part of that scam, arranged 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.

You are judged by the company you keep and Cunningham's business dealings seem to invariably be with people who have something to gain by their association with the Congressman. Funny that.