Western Brooklyn

Grimm Campaign Contributors In More Hot Water

Pinto (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, a rabbi with ties to the FBI investigation into Congressman Michael Grimm’s 2010 campaign fundraising, is going to be indicted in Israel for attempting to bribe officials, looting a charity and other charges, according to Haaretz.

The rabbi is also named in a separate New York State Supreme Court civil complaint alleging that he and others with ties to the congressman’s campaign attempted to intimidate a business rival, including “ordering” a New York City police officer to arrest the rival.

The newspaper lists the Israeli charges in more detail:

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto is suspected of systematically collecting information about senior police officers, demanding that some of them be replaced, threatening an officer, offering bribes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and intimidating witnesses, according to a document prosecutors sent to Pinto and his wife, Rivka, a few weeks ago.

In New York, businessman Tomar Shohat is seeking unspecified damages from Pinto and a top Pinto aide, Benzion Suky. Shohat and Suky were partners in a real estate venture, Metro Apartments. But Shohat claims Suky mismanaged the business, possibly funneling money to his own benefit and operating the building as an illegal hotel.

From the Forward:

Shohat allegedly brought his findings to Pinto, who asked Shohat not to report them to the police. Later, according to the complaint, Pinto and Suky threatened to have Shohat injured or to have him arrested by Patino if he continued to investigate irregularities at the building.

When Shohat continued his investigation and reported his findings to the Metro board, he was allegedly threatened again, this time by Pinto’s brother, Menachem Pinto, who is also a defendant in the suit. Suky then accused Shohat of theft and, according to complaint, Pinto and Suky “arranged for…Patino to arrest [Shohat] and charge him with crimes he had not committed.”

Shohat was arrested February 21, 2013. According to the complaint, Patino first told Shohat he would be let go if they could eat lunch together and talk. Later, after Shohat’s attorney had come and gone, Patino allegedly told Shohat that he would let him go if he gave Patino his computer, which contained data about the Metro Apartments investigation.

Following the arrest, Patino filed a felony complaint against Shohat accusing him of stealing $15,000 from a locked petty cash container at 440 West 41st Street. The D.A.’s office filed a motion to dismiss the charges in April.

Patino works both as an NYPD detective and a real estate agent with a commercial real estate brokerage called the Azad Propety Group, according to his LinkedIn profile. Azad Property Group does not have a listed phone number.

Pinto and Suky both have ties to Congressman Grimm. Another top Pinto aide, Ofer Biton, allegedly funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Pinto’s flock to the congressman’s 2010 campaign. Investigators believe that may include funds from foreign donors and donations that exceeded legal limits, according to reports.

Biton was reportedly seeking help obtaining a green card. He pleaded guilty to visa fraud last year.

Suky, meanwhile, has contributed to Grimm’s campaign – one of several pornographers on Grimm’s donor roster. As we shared back in 2012:

One of the rabbi’s closest aides, Benzion Suky, owned a company that distributed porn videos and has settled lawsuits by adult film studios who accused him of selling bootlegged DVDs, according to court records. Suky and his wife gave a combined $9,600 to Grimm’s 2010 campaign and a real estate partnership that lists Suky as its managing member gave $4,800, according to Federal Election Commission records.