Done in by health food?
The New York Times reported Friday that the federal criminal charges soon expected to be brought against Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) will “focus largely on his conduct in connection with a health food restaurant he owned on the Upper East Side of Manhattan,” according to two people familiar with the case. The charges were expected to include mail fraud and wire fraud, along with obstruction of justice.
Grimm’s attorney confirmed to TPM on Friday that federal prosecutors in New York were preparing to bring charges against the second-term Staten Island congressman, following more than two years of investigation.
According to the Times, the investigation began by looking into Grimm’s fundraising for his 2010 campaign. Two people who helped with his fundraising, Donna Durand and Ofer Biton, have already been hit with federal charges — Durand for funneling $10,000 to the campaign and Biton for lying on immigration documents. But the Times reported Friday that the indictment against Grimm was not expected to include campaign finance charges, or accusations that Grimm had misused his office. At least not yet.
The health food restaurant, named Healthalicious, was located on Second Avenue near 83rd Street, and the company that operated the establishment was affiliated with another company tied to Biton. According to the Times, Healthalicious had problems. In 2012, Healthalicious was ordered to pay nearly $90,000 for not carrying workers’ compensation insurance. Former workers also hired a lawyer who eventually sued the restaurant’s operating company over payment disputes.
In a statement on Friday, Grimm’s attorney said his client asserted “his innocence of any wrongdoing” and would remain in office.