Staten Island State Representative Michael Grimm has a big PR problem on his hands—and it’s threatening to extend to some well-known faces within the industry itself.
The big news: On Friday, federal authorities arrested Israeli national Ofer Biton, who happens to be one of Grimm’s top fundraisers, and charged him with immigration fraud. The government has accused Biton of lying about his business ventures and extorting funds in an effort to win a permanent US visa–but this isn’t the first time he’s attracted suspicion.
Biton was a top aide to Upper East Side rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto until 2010, and investigators “have been investigating the possibility” that he was responsible for the disappearance of up to $6 million originally belonging to members of Pinto’s yeshiva. Biton solicited a good deal of cash from this crowd in support of State Rep. Grimm, and the rabbi’s followers believe that he also pocketed millions of dollars meant to go to politicians and related charities. Biton has even been accused of leaking negative stories about Pinto to reporters and then using the bad press to blackmail him into hiring a professional representative.
The big PR name in this sundry tale is that of Ronn Torossian.