For instance, Yossi Zaga, a prominent New York real estate developer, told the New York Times that “Grimm and Biton were together all the time during the campaign. ... They would drive around together to the homes and offices [of congregation members] and ask for contributions.” Zaga donated $4,800 to Grimm’s campaign.
According to a December New York Times story, Biton and Ronn Torossian are under investigation by the FBI for allegedly stealing millions of dollars in donations from Pinto’s congregation.
Once thought of as an up-and-coming star within the GOP, Grimm has become embroiled in a series of scandals involving his behavior during and after his time with the FBI. For instance, a May 2011 New Yorker article detailed an alleged altercation Grimm had in 1999 at the Caribbean Tropics night club in Queens while he was an undercover agent. According to the article, following an altercation with another man at the club, Grimm later returned with other FBI agents and police officers to confront the man. Grimm has strenuously denied those charges.
Grimm’s business dealings after leaving the FBI have also come under scrutiny, including his decision to go into business with a fellow former agent who, at the time, was under indictment on racketeering and fraud charges.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has seized on the controversies in its efforts to oust Grimm, who defeated Democratic incumbent Michael McMahon in 2010, and Democrats have targeted his seat as a top priority in this year’s elections.
Pinto is an enormously influential rabbi with a large congregation in the United States and Israel. He has also been a spiritual adviser to a host of celebrities including basketball player LeBron James, and has met with a number of political figures including Weiner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., walks on Broadway after a Future Forum with young entrepreneurs in the Flatiron District of New York City, April 16, 2015. Reps. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and Grace Meng, D-N.Y., also attended.