HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Veteran prosecutor Patrick Griffin was named Connecticut's new chief state's attorney Thursday and vowed to repair the office's reputation after an investigation questioned his predecessor's integrity.
Griffin, a state prosecutor for 27 years including the past six as the top state's attorney for the New Haven area, was appointed by a unanimous vote of the Criminal Justice Commission. The panel interviewed Griffin and Hartford State's Attorney Sharmese Walcott for the post earlier Thursday.
“I don’t think that there’s any question that the reputation of the Division of Criminal Justice has been tarnished,” Griffin told the commission. “I think that’s affected the morale of the entire division. ... We’ve got to begin to think about new ways to engage the community. We have to think outside the box. But I do think that the only way to begin to mend and improve our reputations is through community engagement.”
The chief state's attorney is Connecticut's top state prosecutor and leads the Division of Criminal Justice, which oversees the state's attorney's offices for the state's 13 judicial districts.
Former Chief State's Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. decided to retire March 31 after two years on the job as the Criminal Justice Commission considered whether to hold termination hearings.
An independent investigation ordered by Gov. Ned Lamont questioned Colangelo's hiring of a state budget official's daughter to a $99,000-per-year executive assistant's job in his office, while pressing the official for pay raises for high-ranking state's attorneys. Colangelo denied wrongdoing and questioned many of the investigation's findings.
The probe, led by former U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy Jr., said Colangelo, budget official Konstantinos Diamantis, and Diamantis' daughter, Anastasia Diamantis, gave conflicting statements to investigators that “cast doubt on the integrity of the circumstances surrounding” the hiring of Anastasia Diamantis.
Colangelo and Konstantinos Diamantis denied discussing a job for Diamantis’ daughter before she was hired, but emails appeared to show otherwise, the investigation report said. She also was the only person interviewed for the post, the report said.
Konstantinos Diamantis also denied wrongdoing. He said that while he was in office, Colangelo never got the pay raises he sought.
Konstantinos Diamantis, who was deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, retired in October after being placed on leave as Lamont ordered the investigation into his daughter's hiring. He also is at the center of an ongoing federal investigation into the bidding and awarding of school construction and other projects. State officials have received a grand jury subpoena for communications involving Konstantinos Diamantis, who denies doing anything wrong in that case.
Griffin began his career in 1995 in the chief state's attorney's office and served in the Waterbury Judicial District from 1996 to 2011, including the last eight years trying murder and other serious cases. He later led a new state cold case and shooting task force in the chief state's attorney's office before being named New Haven state's attorney in 2016.
“As state’s attorney, I have always sought to project a steady, professional demeaner, to demand rigorous adherence to the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct, to lead by example, set clearly defined goals and objectives, work as hard as anyone I supervise, to be fair and impartial and above all else to listen to the ideas and concerns of those around me,” Griffin told the commission.
A third finalist for the chief state's attorney's job, retired Litchfield State's Attorney Dawn Gallo, withdrew her candidacy before Thursday's commission meeting.