The unsealed indictment of Rep. Michael Grimm drops 20 criminal counts on the New York Republican, including health care fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud, as well as obstruction of justice and perjury.
Prosecutors allege he hid more than $1 million of income from a health-food restaurant, which he invested in before getting elected to Congress in 2010.
Grimm's attorney denies that the representative broke the law. "From the beginning, the government has pursued a politically driven vendetta against Congressman Grimm and not an independent search for the truth," William McGinley, Grimm's attorney said last week. "Congressman Grimm asserts his innocence of any wrongdoing." Grimm pleaded not guilty on Monday, and will be released on a $400,000 bond.
It's been known for a while that Grimm has been under investigation. Here are five tidbits from the indictment and case.
"Granny Sayz" and "Healthicious" are real business names.
Grimm apparently thought it a good idea to name his health-food restaurant Healthicious and name the LLC that did its business Granny Sayz.
In addition to not reporting more than $1 million of income from the business, prosecutors allege, Grimm instructed that employees be paid under the table, and that the restaurant employed undocumented immigrants.
Healthicious has averaged a three-out-of-five star rating on Yelp. The general consensus appears to be that the wraps are pretty decent but overpriced. But it's New York, and Manhattan's not cheap, so what are you gonna do!
That connection to the "Rabbi to the Rich and Famous."
So, there's this, via The Washington Post:
The charges stem from his ownership of a Manhattan health-food restaurant that has ties to an Israeli fundraiser who served as a liaison between Grimm and a mystic, celebrity rabbi whose followers donated more than $500,000 to Grimm's campaign in 2010.
That Israeli fundraiser is Ofer Biton, who in August 2013 pleaded guilty to immigration fraud. He is a former aide to Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, who is thought of as a rabbi to the rich and famous. As in, LeBron James has sought out his counsel type rich-and-famous.
During his first congressional race, Grimm acknowledged he received campaign contributions from Pinto's followers. Later, some of Pinto's followers said they made illegal contributions through straw donors, but Grimm denied knowledge of illegal donations.
Grimm uses an AOL email account?
Maybe not as damning as all the other allegations, but Grimm supposedly used an AOL email account to conduct business—starting in 2007. He allegedly emailed a manager on how to fake payroll to employees.
And lied about it?
Prosecutors also allege that Grimm perjured himself under oath. In January 2013, Grimm testified under oath that he conducted most emails concerning his restaurant business through a Yahoo business email account, not his personal account. He also said, "Almost everything was done on the phone or in person. I wasn't big on email then."
Grimm used to be an FBI agent, and the FBI is not happy about it.
The FBI arrested Grimm—who actually used to be an agent. He worked for the agency from 1991 to 2006, mostly investigating securities fraud. He also served as an undercover agent, known as Mikey Suits, and infiltrated the Gambino crime family.
Considering Grimm's past employment, FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos had this to say Monday: "As a former FBI agent, Representative Grimm should understand the motto: fidelity, bravery, and integrity. Yet he broke our credo at nearly every turn," Venizelos said. "In this 20-count indictment, Representative Grimm lived by a new motto: fraud, perjury, and obstruction."
This article appears in the April 29, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.