Sep 07, 2012
Will Grimm Plead for Leniency for Fundraiser Like He Did for Fraudster?
When Congressman Michael Grimm's (NY-11) good friend Thomas Kontogiannis was convicted of bribery, Congressman Grimm shamelessly sent a letter to the judge asking for leniency. Now that Congressman Grimm's top fundraiser, Ofer Biton, has been arrested by the FBI, will Grimm repeat the gesture? Biton is asking a judge for leniency today, and the only question is whether his buddy Congressman Grimm will be there to lend a helping hand.
“Congressman Grimm has surrounded himself with criminals for years, even lobbying judges to show leniency to a convicted fraudster,” said Josh Schwerin, Northeast Press Secretary at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Many observers already believe Biton’s arrest was connected to the ongoing FBI investigation into Congressman Grimm himself, so it would come as no surprise if Grimm were to help his fundraiser out and repeat the favor he already performed for a convicted fraudster.”
Jailed Grimm Fundraiser Planned To Ask Judge For Release. “A former top fundraiser for Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm who has been jailed since his arrest last month on visa-fraud charges will ask a judge Friday to release him. Ofer Biton is being prosecuted by an assistant Brooklyn U.S. attorney who is leading an investigation into allegations that the Republican congressman accepted illegal campaign contributions. Biton was ordered held without bail because he is a citizen of Israel and deemed a risk to flee overseas. A source familiar with the probe said the feds are trying to pressure Biton into becoming a government witness.” [NY Daily News, 9/06/12]
Grimm Asked Judge For Leniency For Fraudster Friend. In February 2012, the New York Daily News reported that Grimm urged a federal judge to spare Thomas Kontogiannis, a New York-based developer with multiple bribery-related convictions, from going to prison. Kontogiannis had been charged with helping funnel $1 million in bribe money to former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham. In a three-page letter, Grimm asked California federal judge Lawrence Burns to “be as lenient as the law will allow and your conscience accepts, granting him a noncustodial sentence.” Kontogiannis was ultimately sentenced to eight years in prison. [NY Daily News, 2/26/12]
Grimm Under FBI Investigation. “The FBI has questioned at least four people who worked on Congressman Michael Grimm’s 2010 campaign as part of its ongoing probe into allegations the Tea Party favorite took illegal election donations. […] The four, either campaign operatives and volunteers, were questioned in the past two weeks. In one case, the interview was conducted by a federal tag team that included an Assistant U.S. Attorney, sources told the Daily News. The FBI opened an inquiry into the Republican’s fund-raising after members of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto’s New York congregation complained he was strong-arming them for donations, as the New York Times reported in January.” [NY Daily News, 6/20/12]