Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Staten Island Congressman's Mob Ties

Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm investigated the Gambino crime family as an FBI agent — before opening a restaurant with a business partner so close to one of the mob clan’s capos, he considers him an “uncle,” according to sources and court documents.
The first-term Republican’s ex-business partner, Bennett Orfaly, regularly travels to the federal lockup in Fort Dix, NJ, to visit his pal Anthony “Fat Tony’’ Morelli, Brooklyn federal prosecutors said.
Morelli’s mob assignments included overseeing the family’s investments in pornography, labor racketeering and illegal dumping, law-enforcement sources said.
SUSPICIOUS: Shady restaurant owner Bennett Orfaly went into business with Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm (above), a former FBI agent.
SUSPICIOUS: Shady restaurant owner Bennett Orfaly went into business with Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm (above), a former FBI agent.
Bennett Orfaly
Bennett Orfaly
Late Gambino boss John Gotti put him in charge of the family’s Florida rackets, one source said.
Morelli, who is serving time on several convictions, is “like an uncle” to Orfaly, another source said.
Asked about his Gambino connections, Orfaly declined to comment. Grimm is under investigation for alleged fund-raising irregularities in his 2010 campaign.
As an FBI agent, Grimm was responsible for keeping tabs on John Gotti’s brother Peter. He also worked undercover on a case that resulted in the arrest of Gambino soldier Greg DePalma.
Other characters in the bizarre saga include:
* An Israeli named Ofer Biton, who until recently was jailed on an a charge of immigration fraud.
He was released to house arrest on a $1.5 million bond after Orfaly posted his stake in several restaurants co-owned with Biton, according to court papers.
Biton’s lawyer, John Meringolo, says the feds are threatening his client with more serious charges unless he testifies against Grimm in the fund-raising probe.
* A mystic rabbi named Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, who heads an Upper East Side congregation.
Its members are among those suspected of making illegal donations to Grimm. Biton was once a top aide to the rabbi.
Grimm, an ex-Marine, insists his campaign is clean and denies knowing anything about his ex-partner’s mob associations, said his lawyer, William McGinley.
Before his election to Congress in 2010, Grimm and Orfaly had been partners in an Upper East Side eatery, Healthalicious.
McGinley says that prior to making his run, Grimm sold his share of that business to Orfaly.
But three sources familiar with the ongoing probe, told The Post the purchaser was Biton. Either way, Biton now owns Healthalicious outright, sources said — and he is partners with Orfaly in several Manhattan pita restaurants.
As far as Biton goes, prosecutors claim that a decade ago, he was a member of an ecstasy ring in California and was wiretapped talking to a senior Israeli organized-crime associate. Biton was never charged with any drug crime.
In addition to his problems with the feds, Grimm also faces a civil lawsuit by Healthalicious workers, alleging wage violations when he was part-owner.
A lawyer for the workers, Michael Faillace, said they settled with Orfaly, but Grimm asked that an agreement with him be postponed until after the election.
Grimm has denied his employees were cheated out of overtime.



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