Questions remain following raid of Manchester alderman's home, businesses
MANCHESTER — A day after authorities searched the home and businesses of Ward 8 Alderman Thomas Katsiantonis as part of a criminal financial investigation, the city’s mayor said he was monitoring developments.
“I’m certainly concerned about the situation and I’m watching the situation and I’m not going to comment any further,” Mayor Ted Gatsas said Wednesday.
Federal and state investigators searched Katsiantonis’ home and two restaurants he owns, but authorities wouldn’t say whether the alderman, who also is a state representative, is a target of their months-long investigation. A decision on whether to file charges against anyone is likely months away.
Edward Sapienza, who ran unsuccessfully against Katsiantonis for alderman in 2015, was surprised with the news.
“Let’s wait and see what unfolds,” Sapienza said. “Everyone’s innocent until proven guilty.”
Katsiantonis, a Democrat, has served as an alderman since 2011 and before that as a school board member. He is a six-term state representative with a sub-par attendance record.
He’s made four of 33 votes in 2017 and hasn’t voted since Jan. 4. He missed 10 votes Wednesday, the day after authorities made their searches.
Katsiantonis also made only about 10 percent of his votes in 2016.
The only bill he has served as chief sponsor dealt with urging that the United Kingdom return the Parthenon marbles to Greece.
Katsiantonis is president of the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association, an international delegation of representatives of Greek descent. His brother, George, is a member of the Greek parliament and was a New Hampshire legislator himself.
Katsiantonis, who also owns Grand Slam Pizza on Mammoth Road, and his wife, Soula, have two children.
The family lives in a three-bedroom Colonial home, assessed for just under $300,000, at 45 Glen Bloom Drive in the south end, which was searched as part of the investigation.
State liquor licenses associate Katsiantonis’ name with the Pericles Democratic Club of New Hampshire, a decades old social club located on Spruce Street in an old Greek center city neighborhood.
Anthony Kalakonas, the Pericles Club treasurer, said he’s not sure why Katsiantonis’ name is associated with the club’s liquor license. He said Katsiantonis is only a member of the club.
“I have no idea,” he said about what the current criminal investigation involves. “It surprised me. He’s a nice person.”
Historically, the Pericles drew its membership from the Greek community. For example, Manchester developer Dick Anagnost said he was the de facto president in the late 1990s and early 2000s, running it on behalf of his aging father, who was the president. In the ’50s and ’60s, the club was all Greek Democrats, he said. But as its neighborhood changed, its membership has enlarged to reflect the demographics.
When he ran it, Anagnost got rid of the poker machines, after a law went into effect in 2000 that made gambling a felony.
“I didn’t want him to go to jail for some stupid thing,” Anagnost said.
About a decade ago, Anagnost, who then owned a group of Papa Gino’s restaurants, and Katsiantonis had a dustup when Anagnost lost a contract to supply the city schools with pizzas to his pizza rival.
“We had a shouting match when he did that,” Anagnost recalled. “Other than that, he’s always been a stand-up guy. Every time I called and needed something, he (as an alderman) called back and endeavored to get me all the information I’ve needed.”
A few years back, Jimmy Lehoux, who ran for school board in Ward 8 in 2015, teamed up with Katsiantonis to coach their sons’ youth soccer team.
“He was passionate for his kids,” Lehoux recalled.
But when Lehoux ran for school board and Katsiantonis for alderman, the pair had a political dispute Lehoux declined to detail but said any friendship “went south.”
“We had a falling out at the end and that was really it,” Lehoux said.
As for the ongoing investigation, Lehoux said: “It’s unfortunate for his wife and kids. That’s for sure.”
Katsiantonis attended a special meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Wednesday night to hear Mayor Ted Gatsas’ Fiscal Year 2018 budget address. He entered the aldermanic chambers just as the meeting began, avoiding media members.
Following the mayor’s speech, when approached by a New Hampshire Union Leader reporter, Katsiantonis said he couldn’t comment on the investigation.
The issue of the investigation was not addressed at the aldermen meeting.
Contributing were Doug Alden, Paul Feely, Mark Hayward and Kevin Landrigan.