Ofer Biton, a top fundraiser for Congressman Michael Grimm has been arrested by the FBI. He stands accused of of lying on his immigration documents.
The New York Times reports:
According to the complaint, Mr. Biton deceived the government in June 2010 about the source of $500,000 that he claimed to have put into a new business that was to make him eligible for a permanent visa.
Immigrants who can document that they have invested significant amounts of capital in the United States and have created jobs for Americans are often eligible for a permanent visa for themselves and their families. But under the rules, the seed money for the business has to have been obtained honestly.
In his papers, Mr. Biton claimed much of the money for his business came from a loan from a family friend.
In challenging that account, the complaint strongly hints that the money was raised through more coercive means, like extortion.
In the past, Biton was entrenched in allegations of embezzlement stemming from his work with Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto. Biton had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Grimm from members of Pinto’s congregation.
Prosecutor Anthony Capozzolo filed the charges against Biton. He has also been leading a probe of allegations against Congressman Grimm. The allegations state that he accepted illegal campaign contributions.
Though the complaint against Biton makes no mention of Grimm’s involvement, the link between the two has Democrat Mark Murphy, who is running to replace Michael Grimm in Congress, talking.
Later today, Murphy will hold a press conference, calling on Grimm to return $500,000 in campaign donations raised by Biton.
In his release, Murphy writes that Biton’s arrest was, “the first major arrest to happen amid the widening federal probe of Grimm’s fundraising activities.”
Biton is being held without bail.