Down with Tyranny on Monday, August 19, 2013
Ken used to be an opera critic for the NY Times but, that aside, neither of us get many calls from ace Times reporters working on explosive investigative pieces about criminal congressmen. A couple years ago, though, several Times reporters called me because, it turns out, DWT was the first to report anything at all about a rogue FBI agent named “Mikey Suits” who went over to the Dark Side– first to the Mob and then to the GOP for the Mob. It was 2005 and there was a frantic scramble to coverup a $400,000 payoff from Tom Kontogiannis to George W. Bush via bribe-happy San Diego Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham. Kontogiannis needed a presidential pardon and gave Randy “Duke livin’ large free of charge” Cunningham the cash for Bush. No one has ever traced that biggish bundle of dough. But the Gambino Crime Family opertaive, “Mikey Suits” was involved with various “business” dealings with Kontogiannis (now in prison).
During the Romney campaign, enough Grimm dirty laundry started leaking out that Romney staffers made the Staten Island congressman a persona non-grata and removed him from his campaign position and took his name off the official Romney website. The specific impetus was when Grimm snuck off from the the GOP frat party in the Sea of Galilee to visit some organized crime connections in Cyprus. The FBI was in hot pursuit and one of Rep. Grimm’s Cyprus connections, Panayiotis “Peter” Papanicolaou, is in jail now.
At the time, both the NY Times and the NY Post ran stories they’d been working on for a very long time… about Grimm’s connection to the Mafia here at home, specifically he Gambino connection. Ironically, Grimm’s first conversation with Boehner was to demand that Members of Congress be allowed to pack heat on the House floor. Wisely, Boehner has avoided him ever since. The Post got excited about Grimm’s Gambino connection.
Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm investigated the Gambino crime family as an FBI agent– before opening a restaurant with a business partner so close to one of the mob clan’s capos, he considers him an “uncle,” according to sources and court documents.
The first-term Republican’s ex-business partner, Bennett Orfaly, regularly travels to the federal lockup in Fort Dix, NJ, to visit his pal Anthony “Fat Tony’’ Morelli, Brooklyn federal prosecutors said.
Morelli’s mob assignments included overseeing the family’s investments in pornography, labor racketeering and illegal dumping, law-enforcement sources said.
Late Gambino boss John Gotti put him in charge of the family’s Florida rackets, one source said.
Morelli, who is serving time on several convictions, is “like an uncle” to Orfaly, another source said.
Asked about his Gambino connections, Orfaly declined to comment. Grimm is under investigation for alleged fund-raising irregularities in his 2010 campaign.
As an FBI agent, Grimm was responsible for keeping tabs on John Gotti’s brother Peter. He also worked undercover on a case that resulted in the arrest of Gambino soldier Greg DePalma.
…An Israeli named Ofer Biton, who until recently was jailed on an a charge of immigration fraud.
He was released to house arrest on a $1.5 million bond after Orfaly posted his stake in several restaurants co-owned with Biton, according to court papers.
Biton’s lawyer, John Meringolo, says the feds are threatening his client with more serious charges unless he testifies against Grimm in the fund-raising probe.
…Before his election to Congress in 2010, Grimm and Orfaly had been partners in an Upper East Side eatery, Healthalicious.
McGinley [Grimm’s lawyer] says that prior to making his run, Grimm sold his share of that business to Orfaly.
But three sources familiar with the ongoing probe, told The Post the purchaser was Biton. Either way, Biton now owns Healthalicious outright, sources said– and he is partners with Orfaly in several Manhattan pita restaurants.
As far as Biton goes, prosecutors claim that a decade ago, he was a member of an ecstasy ring in California and was wiretapped talking to a senior Israeli organized-crime associate. Biton was never charged with any drug crime.
In addition to his problems with the feds, Grimm also faces a civil lawsuit by Healthalicious workers, alleging wage violations when he was part-owner.
A lawyer for the workers, Michael Faillace, said they settled with Orfaly, but Grimm asked that an agreement with him be postponed until after the election.
That’s what Staten Island elected to Congress in the Great Blue Dog Apocalypse of 2010. The NY Times piece, where, unlike The Post, they reject sensationalistic reporting, sounds at least as tawdry as The Post‘s! Investigative powerhouse Alison Cowan asserts that the role of Healthalicious in the Grimm story was to “burnish his image as an entrepreneur” in his political biography.
It could not be determined whether Mr. Grimm ever had dealings with Mr. [“Fat Tony”] Morelli before or after he resigned from the F.B.I. in 2006.
New York City records indicate that Mr. Grimm’s ties to Mr. Orfaly begin as early as 2006, when Mr. Grimm began laying the legal framework for the restaurant that the two men would jointly operate at Second Avenue and 83rd Street.
Their work together continued for at least three years. In June 2009, both men signed a city health department application to renew a license for the restaurant, documents show.
A few months later, the accountant for the restaurant, Wayne Muratore, was listed in campaign finance documents as the first treasurer of Mr. Grimm’s 2010 campaign for the House. Mr. Muratore did not respond to phone calls or e-mails.
Mr. Grimm has said that he sold his interest in Healthalicious before taking office in January 2011, although he has given varying accounts of how and when the deal transpired.
Pictured below is Grimm’s partner, Orfaly, leaving the U.S. Courthouse with Grimm fundraiser, Ofer Biton. Not sure who’s daughter is being used as a shield.
Now keep in mind that before Grimm ran for Congress in Staten Island, he had been kicked out of the FBI, mostly for taking payoffs from Kontogiannis. Kontogiannis’ story would be the biggest political blockbuster of our lifetimes. He’s been told he’d be found dead in his cell if he ever tries to tell it though– and it involves Saudis, Greeks, a $400,000 cash bribe to George Bush and… the freshman crook who represents Staten Island in Congress today. This past Friday, Biton plead guilty in a sweet deal that saves Grimm a lot of trouble.
A former fund-raiser for Representative Michael G. Grimm, whose campaign finances are under investigation by federal prosecutors, pleaded guilty on Friday to visa fraud.
The former fund-raiser, Ofer Biton, an Israeli immigrant who helped direct hundreds of thousands of dollars from supporters of a revered rabbi to Mr. Grimm’s campaign before his election to Congress in 2010, was arrested last August and charged with lying on his visa application.
Followers of the rabbi, Yoshiyahu Pinto, have said in interviews that Mr. Grimm or Mr. Biton told them that the campaign would find a way to accept donations that were over the legal limit, were given in cash or were given by foreigners who did not have permanent resident status.
Congressional campaigns are not allowed to accept cash donations of more than $100 and foreigners without resident status are barred by law from donating to political campaigns. At the time of Mr. Biton’s arrest, lawyers not involved in the case said that the charges appeared to have been meant to persuade him to cooperate with the authorities in the investigation of Mr. Grimm, a Staten Island Republican, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
There are rumors, completely unconfirmed, that Biton has promised to cooperate with DOJ prosecutors in the probe of Grimm. I’ll believe it when I see it. The New York Daily News is reporting that the plea agreement does not mention cooperation as a condition, but the government and the judge agreed to spring him from house arrest, which he’s been serving for the past 10 months. “After Biton was arrested a year ago, the feds said he was refusing to cooperate with their probe into whether Grimm received illegal campaign contributions.”
Grimm has refused to take questions related to his Mafia connections and right now he’s too busy picking fights with Rand Paul anyway. Grimm is tight with another Mafia-related Republican politician, New Jersey’s corrupt governor, Chris Christie.
|No, that’s not Fat Tony; it’s another Grimm Mafia pal|