The Five Oddest Things About the Michael Grimm Case

The congressman apparently used an AOL email account, among other things.

National Journal
Elahe Izad
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Elahe Izad
April 28, 2014, 9:03 a.m.

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.”

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