During all the commotion last week about the 18th Avenue Feast, there was one story I wish we could have covered. Thankfully, Bay Ridge Journal did a solid job discussing the latest scandal that no one seems to be talking about.
According to Daily News, Representative Michael Grimm’s friend, business associate and fellow ex-FBI agent Carlos Luquis was convicted in 2006 of a $2 million “no show” scam involving a Texas energy firm.
From the News:
Carlos Luquis identifies himself on a business card as a “director” of Austin Refuel, Texas-based company Grimm has co-owned since 2008.
Grimm, a Staten Island Republican, and Luquis share a law enforcement background, having worked for years as FBI agents, including a stint together in the New York office.
During his campaign for office last year, Grimm emphasized his exploits in the FBI and presented himself as a big supporter of law enforcement.
Luquis left the FBI in 2003 and became head of security for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, a company that manages the flow of electricity in the Lone Star State.
Eighteen months later, Luquis and five others were indicted on charges of setting up bogus companies to bill ERCOT $2 million for jobs that were never done.
Luquis was convicted of two of six counts in 2006.
Although he was sentenced to twelve years, Luquis did not even serve two. According to court records, the convicted white collar criminal still owes $200,000 in restitution payments.
Several business owners who have had dealings with Grimm’s company say that Luquis was their go-to guy. Sally Jo Hahn, an energy consultant, said that at Austin Refuel, Luquis runs the show.
Hahn is quoted in the article that she was contacted by apparent business partners Grimm and Luquis, in order to enlist her help in launching their company.
She told the Daily News that Carlos spelled his last name ‘Lukiz’ in their business dealings.
Responding to questions about his relationship with Luquis, Grimm sent reporters the following e-mail:
“The business plan was already finished before [Luquis] was released,” Grimm wrote. “I contracted Carlos because he was a friend that needed a hand in getting back on his feet and I am not a fair-weather friend: It’s called loyalty and for a man that served this country honorably for approx 16 years, he earned a second chance …. Later, at some point, Austin Refuel contracted Carlos to handle the logistical end of the business and [he] assumed the role of director of logistics, based on his experience in the Navy.”
Bay Ridge Journal compares Grimm’s down-playing of Luquis’ role in the company to his explanation of his actions during a Caribbean nightclub brawl.
From Bay Ridge Journal:
Again, as with the… nightclub story, Grimm cast himself as the hero, the guy who rose to the occasion: this time, as the loyal friend who gave Carlos a much-deserved second chance.
What a guy.
Rep. Michael Grimm represents New York’s 13th Congressional District, which includes all of Staten Island. In Brooklyn, the 13th District includes parts of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Gravesend.