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Archive for the tag 'politicians'

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An e-mail shows that Congressman Michael Grimm requested illegal donations to his 2010 campaign, marking the first time the representative has been directly implicated in the probe of his finances since allegations first surfaced in 2012, according to an exclusive report by the New York Post.

The email, shared with a Post reporter by an anonymous source, is from Grimm to the organization of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, requesting $10,000 donations from six people – well over the legal limit of $2,400.

The paper reports:

“We have very little time, as I need to start collecting checks as soon as today or tomorrow,” Grimm wrote in the Oct. 18, 2010, missive to Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto’s organization. “I think that if the Rabbi calls the six people and asks them to each write one check for the $10,000, then we can finish this in the next few days.”

Grimm went on to say he needed $190,000 to buy two weeks of television commercials and direct-mail solicitations.

“I can raise $120-$130 [thousand], but I must have the other $60,000 as soon as possible. Please e-mail me back, as I am very nervous and concerned about the final amounts of money,” he wrote in the e-mail, which was seen by The Post.

The Post’s source said that the money was given, but none of it showed up on his campaign filings. That would mean that, if true, it was funneled through multiple “straw donors” to hide the sources. Straw donors are phony donors who are given the funds to donate back to the campaign under their own names in order to keep it under the legal limit.

Diana Durand, a former flame of the congressman, pleaded guilty earlier this year to recruiting straw donors to give money to Grimm and another congressman in 2010.

Durand kept mum, and Grimm was not implicated in that case. While several instances of finance improprieties have surfaced around the congressman’s 2010 campaign, none have directly implicated the congressman of being aware of the schemes.

A spokesperson for the Grimm called the accusation “baseless,” and part of a “smear campaign.”

“The incredulous source of these baseless accusations has proven over four years to be nothing more than part of a smear campaign that does not warrant a response,” a spokesman told The Post.

Grimm’s contact in the Pinto organization, Ofer Biton, pleaded guilty to visa fraud last year, after the FBI claimed that much of the money needed to obtain a special visa for investors came from fraud and extortion. It had previously been reported that Biton sought help from Grimm in obtaining a green card after raising more than $500,000 for the pol through Pinto’s organization.

It was Pinto himself who sparked the probe into Grimm’s campaign after he told federal authorities that Biton and another close aide extorted the donations from his flock. Pinto was allegedly threatened by Israeli authorities to cease his cooperation with the FBI’s investigation or face charges in that nation; he was later charged with attempting to bribe officials.

Grimm faces unrelated charges of tax evasion, fraud and illegal hiring practices in connection to a Manhattan-based restaurant he once owned. Biton, too, seems to have a connection to the restaurant; the congressman’s former business partner in the venture, Bennett Orfaly, put up $30,000 for Biton’s bail. Orfaly also has ties to the Gambino crime family, according to a report in the New York Times.

grimm

The trial of Congressman Michael Grimm, facing tax fraud allegations and other charges, has been postponed until February 2. At a hearing on the postponement, prosecutors hinted that some of the charges could be split from the indictment and prosecuted in a separate trial.

During a hearing on Tuesday, Grimm’s defense landed a minor victory, winning the postponement from an early December date until February 2 so that they can review materials. Prosecutors turned over approximately 100 hours of recorded conversations, including 10 hours conducted in a foreign language. The defense team said they’d need extra time to review them because, “I’d be sitting at my desk for two full working weeks,” said defense lawyer Jeffrey Neiman, according to the Staten Island Advance.

The judge also denied Grimm’s legal team’s request earlier this month for information from the prosecution that they thought would prove the investigation was the result of a political witch hunt and professional vendettas. That included knowing the involvement of particular FBI investigators and the role played by a prosecutor now running as a Democratic candidate for State Assembly.

The judge found the claims without merit, calling it “unsupported and random speculation.” The New York Times reports:

Prosecutors pointed out that there were 10 other cases involving cash payrolls to avoid taxes from 2012 to 2014, making it hard for Mr. Grimm to argue that he alone was selected. Mr. Kaminsky, they said, never acted with improper motive and was only one of several prosecutors involved in the investigation. As for the idea that the office chose Mr. Grimm for his politics, the other elected officials the office prosecuted in the last four years were Democrats, prosecutors said.

The judge is still mulling a motion to dismiss three perjury-related charges on the basis of jurisdictional issues. Because it pertained to his Manhattan-based restaurant, the defense argues that charges should have been filed in the Southern District of New York, not the Eastern District, which is where he’s being prosecuted.

The Advance notes:

Prosecutors conceded the jurisdictional issue, but Judge Pamela Chen stopped short of dismissing those three counts without prejudice Tuesday, as Grimm’s defense team is still seeking to dismiss the entire case, perjury charges and all, arguing “selective and vindictive prosecution.”

“In effect, the venue motion is really a separation motion of the perjury and obstruction counts, effectively resulting in two trials for the price of one,” Gatta said. “We’re happy to oblige the defendant if he wants two trials.”

Assemblyman Brook-Krasny (left) and challenger Lilikakis (right). Photo by Bailey Wolff.

Assemblyman Brook-Krasny (left) and challenger Lilikakis (right). Photo by Bailey Wolff.

By Bailey Wolff

The Bay Ridge Real Estate Board hosted a “Meet the Candidates Event” Wednesday night at the Dyker Heights Golf Course. Present at the forum was four-term incumbent of the 46th District, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, and his opponent, first time political hopeful, Stamatis Lilikakis.

Vice President of the Bay Ridge Real Estate Board Aldo Iemma and his wife Deborah organized the forum in order to establish communication between members of the community and elected officials who represent them in government.

“We want to educate, and encourage connections so that everyone is involved with the political process,” said Deborah Iemma.

Stamatis Lilikakis was the first of the two candidates to speak. He discussed the need to lower taxes to stop the “exodus” of businesses from New York State.

“I actually know what most people in this room feel,” said Lilikakis. “And I’m running for office because I’ve had enough of being a blank check for Albany and for our federal government … my goal is to try and lessen some of that burden.”

The 46th Assembly District spans the waterfront from Brighton Beach to Bay Ridge.

The 46th Assembly District spans the waterfront from Brighton Beach to Bay Ridge.

Running as a Republican-Conservative, Lilikakis said that he has united “different factions” in his party, and if elected, wants to create more opportunities for business and education in the district.

He also spoke about illegal conversions—the process of turning singe-family homes into multi-family, non-permitted housing units. “They’re illegal. They shouldn’t be here. There should be a task force, by the police department and fire department to go in and stop these things.”

Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny took the floor after Lilikakis and defined the 46th voting district as “very diverse.”

“From very liberal Coney Island to the more conservative part in Dyker Heights … you have people speaking more than 50 different languages with many different political opinions.” Because of these reasons, Krasny stated, the district needs a “balance minded politician” to represent every member of the district.

“One of the first priorities of every government,” said the assemblyman, “should be supporting the economy and increasing the number of jobs in his district.” He pointed to low state income taxes and universal Pre-K as two of his achievements, but also quoted the statistic that 70 percent of his constituents rely on government funding “in one form or another.” For this reason, he said, “I have to be very careful when cutting taxes.”

When a member of the audience asked Krasny about government funds to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy, he quoted recently announced numbers of $25 million to build jetties and $2.9 million for a seawall to protect his district’s waterfront.

“Some services, some departments, some programs—like Build it Back—they didn’t do the right job,” the assemblyman said. “I know as a private citizen what is going on with Build it Back. It’s terrible. But it’s getting better.”

These two opponents will debate at 7:30pm on October 14, at St. Phillip’s Church in Dyker Heights. The church is located on 80th Street and 11th Avenue. The General Elections will be held November 4, 2014.

State Senator Marty Golden (Photo By Erica Sherman)

State Senator Marty Golden (Photo By Erica Sherman)

Federal prosecutors are looking into the campaign finances of State Senator Marty Golden, the pol confirmed.

“The campaign fund is being looked at,” Golden told the New York Post, regarding a probe by United States Attorney Preet Bharara.

The paper reports:

Golden has hired Gottlieb & Gordon, a law firm that specializes in government investigations and white-collar crime defenses, in response to a subpoena from the Manhattan federal prosecutor’s office.

… [Golden] said he didn’t know why his campaign fund was being targeted.

Bharara’s office leads the nation in political convictions, having also put away former Sheepshead Bay State Senator Carl Kruger and several others. The prosecutor has not indicted Golden or made any public announcements about its investigation.

Golden was previously being eyed by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Moreland Commission before it was disbanded. Bharara’s office took over several of the cases the Moreland panel was looking into.

The New York Post speculated that the commission was eyeing the $541,599 that the pol steered to the Bay Ridge Manor, a catering hall he once owned and is now owned by his brother.

It’s also possible that the probe is looking at activity surrounding multi-million dollar tax breaks given to luxury developers in Manhattan, including a $44 million waiver to Extell Development. The commission sent subpoenas to those developers last summer. Golden sponsored the legislation in the Senate, and pleaded ignorance when asked about it.

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From last year’s parade.

The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblyman William Colton:

Assembly Member William Colton (47th Assembly District – Brooklyn) will be one of four grand marshals for Brooklyn’s 33rd Annual Columbus Day parade. The parade will take place on Saturday, October 11th at 1:00pm on 18th Avenue (also known as Cristoforo Columbo Boulevard) from 63rd Street to 85th Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The parade will be preceded by a celebratory Mass at St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church at 10:15 am on the day of the parade.

The other three grand marshals include Council Member Vincent Gentile (43rd Council District), Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello (Director of the office of Parish Giving, Vicar for Development, & Pastor of St. Bernard’s Church), and Regina Scire (Vice President of Market Manager Investors Bank). The Grand Marshals were chosen for being outstanding individuals whose achievements and contributions to society exemplify those traits which the FIAO values. The FIAO also believes that the Grand Marshals serve as positive role models for our youth.

The FIAO’s Brooklyn Columbus Parade Committee stated that it chose Colton as for the honor because of his “outstanding commitment to the community and support of the local organizations that make Brooklyn thrive.” The FIAO further declared Colton as an “outstanding leader in the New York State Legislature” whose “advocacy and legislation in the Assembly has supported the needs of tens of thousands of Brooklyn residents across all communities and culture.” They continued, stating that the Assembly Member’s “extraordinary leadership and contributions to the communities” has made “a true different in the lives of residents” in southwest Brooklyn.

Each year the Federation of Italian-American Organizations (FIAO), along with numerous other organizations, sponsors the Brooklyn Columbus Day Parade. The parade celebrates the rich contributions and the dynamic vibrancy brought to our society by Italian-Americans. In addition, the Brooklyn Columbus Day Parade instills a true pride in our identity as Italian-Americans as well as fosters brother-hood among the many ethnic groups in our community.

This year’s parade is very important because the FIAO will open Il Centro – New York City’s first Italian-American Cultural Community Center later this fall. This 44,000 square foot, six story facility will house event space, classrooms, an interactive learning library, a fitness center, gymnasium and pool, and expand the work of the Federation’s services to incorporate language, culinary, arts, writing, job training and economic development programs.

The neighborhood of Bensonhurst, in Brooklyn, has been home to a large population of Italian-Americans for over fifty years.

Assembly Member William Colton was born and raised in Bensonhurst, attending St. Athanasius School as a child and being an active parishioner in St. Athanasius Church. His Italian heritage stems from his maternal grandparents, who immigrated to the United States from Naples, Italy in the early twentieth century. His father was an Irish-American. Colton has been a lawyer and community activist in the Bensonhurst community for over twenty years before being elected to the State Assembly in 1996. He also was a New York City public school teacher and UFT Chapter Chairperson before becoming an elected official.

On Sunday, October 5th, The FIAO honored Assembly Member Colton and the other parade Grand Marshals at their annual Columbus Day Parade Funding Raising Brunch. The event was held at the Dyker Beach Golf Course.

Colton asserted, “I am extremely honored and humbled to have been selected by the FIAO to be one of the Grand Marshalls for the 33rd Annual Brooklyn Columbus Day Parade. I credit my grandparents who immigrated to this great country from Naples in the early 1900’s for providing me with the faith, the moral values and the traditions which makes this possible. My Italian heritage is important to me, as I work to serve and fight for the people of southwest Brooklyn. I thank the FIAO for this tremendous honor.”

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When news broke in 2012 that Congressman Michael Grimm was the target of a federal investigation, the pol said it was a liberal media conspiracy. Now the pol’s defense team is depicting it as a political witch hunt led by a prosecutor with electoral aspirations, and aided by former FBI colleagues settling a score.

Grimm pleaded not guilty to a 20-count indictment that alleges, among other things, tax evasion, fraud and illegal hiring practices connected to a restaurant he owned before running for office. The trial is set to begin in December, but the pol’s legal team sent a pair of letters earlier this month that appear to suggest the direction their defense will take – not one that clears his name of tax fraud, but one that says he was only caught because the prosecution sought to take down a Republican.

Staten Island Advance reports:

In a letter dated Oct. 1, Grimm’s lawyers, Jeffrey A. Neiman and Daniel Rashbaum, fired off a list of 14 questions to federal prosecutors, many asking about the role of former Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Kaminsky in the investigation into the congressman.

Kaminsky, a Democrat, left the U.S. attorney’s office after the tax evasion indictment was announced to run for state Assembly.

“What role did former Assistant United States Attorney Todd Kaminsky have in the investigation of Mr. Grimm?” one question asks.

“When did Mr. Kaminsky first notify the United States Attorney’s Office of his intention to seek political office, informally or formally?” asks another.

… Grimm’s team also asked what role FBI Supervisory Special Agent Anthony Bivona and Assitant Special Agent in Charge Mary Gallingan played in the investigation, as well as many other indictments the U.S. Attorney’s office has sought in the past five years regarding restaurants paying employees in cash, under-reporting cash sales to the Internal Rvenue Service, or “hiring illegal aliens as employees.”

Neiman and Rashbaum wrote a second letter on Oct. 1, asking for documents, notes, copies of inconsistent statements, and criminal or psychiatric histories of witnesses in the case.

In a response dated October 2, Lynch’s office said they would provide relevant info prior to trial as required by law. But her office bristled at the 14 questions, saying they were neither pertinent, nor legally required.

“It should be noted, however, that the 14 questions about the investigation and other cases seek information that is irrelevant to the charges of this case…. The government therefore respectfully declines to provide the information sought in these 14 requests,” Lynch writes.

The Daily News has a little more about the request for information regarding the special agents:

Team Grimm appears poised to take on supervisory FBI Special Agents Anthony Bivona and Mary Galligan. Sources said Bivona had a falling-out with Grimm and Galligan led an internal probe of Grimm before he left the bureau.

SILive.com has full copies of the letters.

Colton (Source: Facebook)

Colton (Source: Facebook)

The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblyman William Colton:

Assembly Member William Colton (47th Assembly District – Brooklyn) has called on the New York City Department of Transportation to resume installation of street signs to remind pet owners to clean up after their dogs.

Colton’s office has been contacted by a large number of constituents about dog owners who are not picking up after their dogs. This is one of the biggest complaints the Assembly Member receive from constituents.

A number of years ago, the NYC Department of Transportation had street signs installed warning them to pick up after their dog and that if they did not, they could receive a fine from the City. This policy was discontinued a few years ago, likely due to budget cuts.

This week, Colton sent a letter to the Department of Transportation calling on them to resume putting up these warning signs telling dog owners to clean up after their pets in order to greatly improve the quality of life for New York City residents. Dog owners, who do not pick up after their pets, cause serious health and sanitation issues. These issues seriously hinder the quality of life for the people of the City. For example, children often play on the streets and sidewalks throughout our City, and they are exposed to the dog feces not cleaned up by pet owners. Also, the cleanliness of our neighborhoods is decreased by negligent pet owners who do not pick up after their dogs.

In the letter, Colton asked the Department of Transportation to work in conjunction with the Department of Sanitation to install these street signs to remind pet owners to be responsible and pick up after their dogs, and to warn them that if they fail to follow this law, they will be penalized for their negligent actions.

Colton asserted, “It’s important that we protect the quality of life in our neighborhoods. It’s irresponsible and negligent for dog owners to not pick up after their pets, because of the serious health and sanitation problems that arise from not cleaning up after your dog. The streets signs the City used to install help reminded people that they have a legal responsibility to clean up after their dogs. The Department of Transportation needs to continue installing these street signs to not only remind pet owners of their responsibility, but to also remind them that failure to comply with the law can lead to a fine from the City.”

Source: Gentile's office

Source: Gentile’s office

The following is a press release from Councilman Vincent Gentile:

Starting next week you’ll have even more access to Deputy Leader Councilman Vincent J. Gentile and his hardworking staff.

Councilman Gentile, acknowledging that not everyone can stop by his office during the day, is announcing late night hours in his new office every Wednesday.

Starting in October, Councilman Gentile’s new office, located at 8018 5th Avenue, will be open from 9:30 AM until 8:00 PM every Wednesday.

“Each and every morning I wake up honored to serve as your Councilman, representing the fine, hardworking people of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Bensonhurst,” Gentile said. “My job is to be your voice at City Hall and that is why it is so important that I hear from you. My office is your office and my door is always open to you.”

If you can’t make it in during the week, you can also visit Councilman Gentile’s “satellite office” at the Bay Ridge Greenmarket every Saturday from 10 am – 1 pm through November.

“My goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to visit me and my staff so we can help you,” Gentile continued. “Now with my new late night Wednesday hours, you can come home from work and still be able to visit my office in person with your questions and concerns.”

You can also always call or email Councilman Gentile’s office at (718) 748-5200 or vgentile@council.nyc.gov

Deputy Leader Councilman Vincent J. Gentile

8018 5th Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11209

Official office hours, effective 10/1/14

Monday 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Tuesday 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Wednesday 9:30 AM – 8:00 PM
Thursday 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Friday 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM
*Saturday 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM at the Bay Ridge Greenmarket

Source: geinography/Flickr

The following is a press release from the offices of State Senator Marty Golden:

State Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), in partnership with American Legion Amity Post 791, is urging community support for a collection drive to support our troops being cared for at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and The Armed Forces Military Nursing Home.

Senator Golden, along with Michael Moylan and Howard Dunn from Amity Post 791, are asking for the community to be generous and donate new board games and new pajamas, for the soldiers and their families. Board games such as Candy Land, Scrabble, Monopoly, Pictionary and many others, provide occupational therapy for the soldiers during hospital rehabilitation. Additionally, new pajamas for men, women and children, are being collected for the military families.

Senator Marty Golden stated, “I commend the members of the Amity Post 791 who are planning a visit later this Fall to our heroes being cared for at Walter Reed. As someone who has been there and met with the soldiers and their families, I can attest to the sacrifices these individuals have made, and to the heroism they have exhibited. These donations will send a message that right here in Brooklyn, we support our troops and will never forget their service.”

Donations can be brought to either of Senator Golden’s Brooklyn district offices located at 7408-5th Avenue (First Floor) and 3604 Quentin Road. Donations of new board games and pajamas will be accepted until Wednesday, November 12th.

For more information on this collection drive, please contact Senator Golden’s office at (718) 238-6044.

The New York Post scored an interesting story full of international intrigue and allegations of political corruption, and it stars the already embattled Congressman Michael Grimm.

The paper reports:

A top official in Israel tried to intimidate the rabbi who claims Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm shook him down for donations, sources familiar with the investigation told The Post.

The FBI is investigating allegations by Orthodox mystic Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, who testified against Grimm in 2010.

In 2011, then-Israeli Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, a follower of the rabbi, visited Pinto at his home in the city of Ashdod in southern Israel and told him that if he continued to cooperate with the FBI, “you’re going to have a disaster in Israel,” a source told The Post. “In Israel they’re going to ruin you.”

“The rabbi started off as a victim and did the right thing by seeking out law enforcement, and now has been victimized once again,” said Arthur Aidala, Pinto’s Manhattan lawyer. He has been joined by famed attorney Alan Dershowitz, who is a follower and longtime friend of the rabbi.

It is unclear whether Grimm was directly involved, but Pinto’s supporters believe he exerted his own pressure on Israeli power brokers fearful of losing the Republican congressman as a supporter.

Pinto, of course, did ultimately testify against the pol. He was later indicted in Israel for attempting to bribe officials, looting a charity and other charges.

Congressman Grimm is slated to go to court in December, after the elections, to face charges of tax evasion, fraud and illegal hiring practices in an apparently unrelated case. Prosecutors said they’re still investigating the pol’s fundraising activities, and no charges have been filed in that probe.

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