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Archive for the tag 'domenic recchia'

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Congressman Michael Grimm’s trial on fraud and tax evasion charges is set to begin on December 1 after a federal judge yesterday denied a request from the lawmaker’s defense team to delay it.

The trial will take place after the November election, but not long enough after it to satisfy Grimm’s defense who worry the jury will be tainted by campaign ads focused on the pol’s alleged misdeeds.

Capital New York reports:

“We’re obviously in the heart of an election cycle right now,” Jeffrey Neiman, an attorney representing Grimm, told the court. He noted that the DCCC has begun featuring ads attacking Grimm that showcase his corruption trial, including a new one that began airing locally yesterday, which includes a clip of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch announcing the 20-count indictment against Grimm.

“We’re concerned about ensuring Mr. Grimm has a fair trial, and if the jury sees these repeated ads, we’re concerned that there may be prejudice,” Neiman said, asking for “a bit of a cooling-off period post-election” that he said would “more than ensure a fair trial for Mr. Grimm.”

Neiman requested a one month postponement, but the judge assured him that the court was capable of ensuring a fair trial for a high-profile defendant.

Grimm was slapped with a 20-count indictment for tax evasion, fraud, conspiracy and illegal hiring practices earlier this year, all in connection to an Upper East Side restaurant he once owned. The pol has denied wrongdoing.

Long before those charges, the congressman was dogged by probes of his fundraising for the 2010 campaign. While no charges were filed against the pol, two associates including an ex-girlfriend face charges.

Diana Durand, the reported former flame, is accused of using straw donors to steer more than $10,000 in illegal donations to Grimm. She is scheduled to enter a plea deal in court today.

Grimm faces a challenge from former councilman Domenic Recchia, who is trouncing the incumbent in fundraising with help from national Democrats.

Former Councilman Domenic Recchia, who is challenging embattled Congressman Michael Grimm, released his campaign’s first television ad this week. The message appears to be an attempt to boost his Staten Island credentials.

The ad, called “Saturday,” follows the Democratic candidate on what it claims is a “typical Saturday.” He heads to Staten Island to take care of mom, back to Brooklyn to shuttle his daughters around, returns to the Island for a nephew’s ballgame, then Brooklyn again, then the Island, then… you get the idea.

If you were hoping the ad might have something about his stance on federal issues like, say, military spending or corporate tax incentives or a federal marriage equality proposal – well, keep hoping. It ain’t in this ad. Instead it says he’ll fight for lower tolls on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge – a state issue – because he doesn’t want to go broke spending all that time in Staten Island.

But, hey, there’s a lot of Staten Island in there. That’s probably a response to the often-touted political wisdom that a Brooklyn candidate can’t represent the Island, which has made us wonder whether an Island rep can represent Brooklyn.

It’s not the only campaign advertising going around. Grimm, a Republican, seems to be short on the ad front, which probably has something to do with his mounting debt and fundraising issues. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is piling on with a video ad that’s been bombarding my Pandora account, called “Charges.” It looks like a pretty good flick.

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Grimm

Legal and financial troubles appear to be fueling recruitment troubles at the offices of beleaguered Congressman Michael Grimm if a desperate-sounding e-mail to colleagues is any indication.

Politico reports:

Grimm’s deputy chief of staff sent an email Wednesday afternoon asking downtowners to help her find a health and education legislative assistant.

“As you can imagine it hasn’t been easy to find a qualified candidate who wants to live on the edge and take a chance working for Rep. Grimm,” wrote [Grimm's Deputy Chief of Staff] Blaire Bartlett. “Ideally this person would have legislative experience. Hill experience would be great and NYC experience would be amazing, but beggars can’t be choosers, right?”

I don’t know about legislative assistants, but if he needs some social media help I know a group of 16-year-old girls who’d love to pitch in.

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Grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm raised just $23,430 for his reelection campaign last month, less than a tenth of the $261,693 pulled in by his opponent, Democrat Domenic Recchia.

The Observer reports:

The campaign’s Schedule A form lists just 18 individual donors — some of them residing at the same address — though some made more than one transaction. Three of the donors are associated with the Savo Brothers construction firm, with each giving $1,300 in July. The firm has drawn the ire of many on Staten Island after it purchased a former Jesuit retreat space, Mount Manresa, where it plans to tear down old-growth trees and building hundreds of townhouses. The Savos have also donated to other local officials in the past.

… Mr. Grimm’s [approximately $13,000 in] expenditures for the month were limited to payroll costs for just a handful of campaign staffers, administrative expenses like cell phone bills and one $250 expense for an ad with a local Rolling Thunder motorcycle group.

With little cash to spend on mailings or television ads, the skilled retail politician has been hitting local events like parades and festivals in his district, where the he’s often overwhelmed by people who want to take pictures with him or shake his hand.

The congressman’s campaign warchest began showing signs of distress in the spring, after Grimm was slapped with a 20-count indictment for mail fraud, tax evasion and perjury. He’s receiving no support from national Republicans, and it appears all but a handful of local boosters have backed away.

Grimm also faces double-duty for fundraising. In addition to his campaign, he’s won approval to create a legal defense fund to fight the charges against him.

The filings show he slightly more than $1 million on hand, although the campaign carries $438,565 in debt stemming from his legal defense as part of a separate investigation into alleged improprieties in his campaign fundraising.

Recchia has just shy of $1.3 million cash on hand with no debt, giving him a significant spending advantage.

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A Staten Island supporter and fundraiser for embattled Congressman Michael Grimm put out a letter saying the pol’s Democratic opponent, Domenic Recchia, wants to build “low-income housing in our neighborhoods,” spurring accusations of racially charged “fear mongering.”

The New York Post reports:

Staten Island Republican Party vice chair Bill D’Ambrosio wrote a July 9 fundraising letter on Grimm’s behalf claiming that Democrat Dominic Recchia would be a champion of low-income housing in the congressional district that covers mostly-white Staten Island and more racially mixed south Brooklyn.

Recchia’s base is in Brooklyn; Grimm’s is on Staten Island.

“His [Recchia’s] strategy for becoming Staten Island’s congressman relies on using votes from Brooklyn housing projects . . . Staten Islanders should have no doubt that this Brooklyn political hack will sell them out to pay back these votes, and surely build low-income housing in our neighborhoods with his cronies at City Hall,” D’Ambrosio said.

Keep reading to see the full letter, the response from Democrats, and how the Grimm campaign is doubling down on the allegation.

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Grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm faces a 20-count indictment for tax evasion and illegal employment practices stemming from a restaurant he operated before running for Congress, charges he said are because the nation’s commander-and-chief wants to see him gone.

Grimm made the allegations against the Obama administration on Tuesday before a gathering of Republican supporters rallying for gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino. He also compared the United States to oppressive regimes in Iran and North Korea.

New York Observer reported on the statements:

“They change policy, they use regulation to legislate, they circumvent the Congress–this is now the norm for the Obama administration,” Mr. Grimm fumed at the Bay Ridge Manor in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

“And when you look and see why they come after me so hard, every day another negative story [against] the only Republican in New York City, it becomes obvious: they don’t want any opposition. This administration wants to do what it wants to do and they want you to forget about the America that you grew up in,” he said.

… “Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I’m not sure what country I’m living in,” he said. “Four Americans are killed and murdered in Benghazi–no one’s held accountable …. The IRS, arguably the most feared agency in our entire government targeting people because of their political views. Now this happens in Iran, this happens in North Korea, but this is the United States of America.”

The site reported that the statements “drew loud cheers.”

Grimm has long maintained that the investigation against him, which began as a probe into his 2010 campaign fundraising, was a “political witch hunt” by Democrats looking to see the city’s lone Republican congressman unseated. Prosecutors, however, have submitted paperwork to the court suggesting that Grimm’s own documents show he kept two sets of books and paid employees – some of which were undocumented immigrants – in cash to avoid taxes.

Grimm’s assertion that he is the subject of political retaliation has sparked snark from colleagues, including State Senator Diane Savino. The pol, whose district is largely within Grimm’s, let forth a tirade on Facebook about Grimm’s conspiracy theory back in April:

[G]et a grip folks, Mikey is not that important, he is no threat to the power structure, he is a slick talker with a nice resume who seems to be in trouble. he was not on track for greatness as a national leader, not on track to upset the national scene. Conspiracy, please….

Grimm pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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Congressman Michael Grimm kept a cell phone registered to his undercover, mob-connected FBI alter-ego years after leaving the job, and continued to use the phone while in Congress, according to a Daily News report.

The paper cites documents released by the U.S. Attorney earlier this week that outlines their evidence in their case against Grimm, who is accused of a $1 million tax fraud scheme, as well as illegal hiring and employment practices.

The paper reports:

Rep. Michael Grimm, who posed as a mobbed-up stockbroker named Michael (Mikey Suits) Garabaldi while working undercover for the FBI, kept his wise-guy alter ego even after entering Congress, newly unsealed federal documents show.

Grimm’s cell phone was listed under a “Michael Garibaldi of Centurian Consulting” as recently as 2012, when prosecutors sought a court order for permission to track all his calls, the documents show.

The embattled Staten Island Republican, who is now under federal indictment, used the phone as his primary number as recently as last year, and even received mail addressed to a Michael Garibaldi, a source told The Daily News.

Grimm, his spokesman and his lawyer did not respond to questions Wednesday about why he used the alias more than six years after leaving the FBI — and for at least two years after entering the U.S. House in January 2011.

The story also reveals the extent of the investigation into Grimm’s 2010 campaign fundraising. That investigation came to light shortly after it began in 2012, first noted by the New York Times, yet it was unclear how far-reaching it was. The new documents show that not only were Grimm’s phone lines were being monitored by authorities, but also that of gal pal Diana Durand, who has been indicted for her alleged role in funneling illegal funds to the Republican pol, and Grimm associates Ofer Biton and Ronn Torossian, who they believed, along with Grimm, has attempted to extort money from prominent Orthodox Rabbi Yosef Pinto.

Biton has also been arrested, and is cooperating in the government’s case against Grimm.

Grimm did not respond to the paper’s requests for comment, or those of the Staten Island Advance.

In fact, he appears to be dodging questions about the investigation, having made headlines yet again this week for jumping into a car and making a getaway from this FOX Detroit reporter:

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Grimm

Federal prosecutors have released documents outlining the government’s case against Congressman Michael Grimm, revealing that Grimm’s own texts and e-mails are being entered as evidence alongside testimony from former employees and business associates.

The Daily News reports:

The preliminary list of evidence includes emails between Grimm and a “Healthalicious manager,” “documents provided by a cooperat[ing] witness,” and “records provided by a Healthalicious employee.” Also listed are “text messages between Grimm and a cooperating witness.”

The list of evidence indicates a seemingly straightforward federal case. Prosecutors plan to prove Grimm maintained a false set of books and lied in financial filings. They will contrast the phony forms with material provided by cooperating witnesses, and with Grimm’s own statements in texts and emails.

Prosecutors are turning over an extensive list of financial documents. Those include years of tax, health and labor filings by Healthalicious and its parent company, Granny Sayz, records of Grimm’s personal finances, the restaurant’s accounts, bank account and credit card records and financial disclosure forms Grimm filed in Congress from 2009 to 2012.

Prosecutors are also offering as evidence the IRS 1040 forms filed by Bennett Ofraly, Grimm’s partner in the restaurant who prosecutors say has ties to the Gambino crime family, which Grimm once investigated while an FBI agent.

Grimm pleaded not guilty to the 20-count indictment alleging the local pol hid more than $1 million in sales at a business he owned to avoid paying taxes, as well as illegally employing undocumented immigrants.

The charges surround the operations of Upper East Side eatery Healthalicious, a venture he ran from 2007 to 2010. However, he’s also charged with perjury for lying to investigators about the business’ operations when he was questioned in 2013, while already serving in the House of Representatives.

It appears the case will not be resolved until after the November 4 elections, in which he faces a challenge from Democrat Domenic Recchia.

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Congressman Michael Grimm and Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia filed their latest fundraising totals earlier this week, with the incumbent just barely edging out his opponent in available cash.

Grimm’s April filing shows that he raised $345,000 over the last filing period, giving him just under $1.2 million to spend.

Recchia, meanwhile, posted $206,000 in cash raised, bringing his total to approximately $1.07 million.

Grimm’s filing, however, also showed that he’s carrying more than $450,000 in debt, largely due to legal expenses connected to the investigation into his 2010 fundraising. While the congressman hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing, several close associates have been questioned or arrested, and prosecutors appear to be gunning for the incumbent.

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Colton and Salgado (Source: Salgado via Twitter)

Assemblyman Bill Colton claims he’s staying out of the congressional race in the 11th District, currently occupied by Michael Grimm, until the candidates up their game and talk about “substantive issues.”

Here’s the statement he issued this morning:

“As a local Assemblyman and voter in the 11th Congressional District of New York, I am still waiting for a substantive discussion between the announced candidates on the needs and the future of the district. Thus far, voters, including me, have had to deal with distractions ranging from bar activities, reporter intimidation, the Brooklyn residence of the former Councilman, talk of packing punches and sizing up opponents, the neutrality of a local Assemblyman, and a back and forth on who did more during Sandy. What I, and many other voters, am waiting for is a substantive plan, with a track record to support it, to involve federal agencies to help stop the building of a dangerous garbage station in Southwest Brooklyn, cut bureaucratic red tape to get Sandy recovery dollars to reach impacted families and communities, to see federal dollars be used to address our antiquated infrastructure, to use federal aid to expand healthcare services in the outer-boroughs, and to see federal officials take aggressive stands against senseless school co-locations that will harm our children. Those are the issues I am closely following and care about. My endorsement is something I take serious because it bears my name on a person or an idea I strongly believe in and am informed about. I refuse to be influenced by party affiliation alone or the power of incumbency when making such an important decision. The voters expect and deserve more. The voters of the district have not been given a fair opportunity to be informed on the platforms of these candidates to help address the pressing issues of our day. Ultimately, voters who may have lost their homes due to Sandy could care less about the neutrality of an Assemblyman, but rather care more about a plan to help them rebuild their homes, communities, and lives. This race is not about the candidates running and not about my position on them. Public service is about serving families, addressing their needs, and caring for their future. Until we hear more about that and less about pettiness, I will continue to reserve my endorsement in this race.”

It sure has been a less-than-virtuous campaign so far. The two presumptive nominees, Grimm and Democrat Domenic Recchia, have focused more on slugging each other in the character arena – or just straight-up making an ass out of themselves – than having a discussion about the issues.

But is Colton really steering clear of the fray? His response comes on the heels of – and, likely, in response to – reports over the past few days that he’s been helping former mayoral candidate and Staten Island-based Evangelical pastor Erick Salgado mount a primary campaign that would pit him against Recchia, with whom Colton has an ongoing feud with.

Salgado even tweeted out a photo of himself with Colton, thanking the local pol for his help setting up an exploratory committee.

As for Salgado, it’s not exactly like he doesn’t know how to word a nice character attack himself. Here’s what he told Politicker last week about his potential campaign against Grimm:

“All I can tell you is that with Erick Salgado, you’re not going to have a pretty face in Washington, but you’re going to have someone who looks out for the needs of the people.”

Substantive indeed.

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