Why bother keeping your restaurant sanitary when you can just hang a photocopy of an "A" grade from the Health Department in your window? This is allegedly what happened with nine restaurants throughout New York City that paid Anastasios Kountis hundreds of dollars to represent them at their appeal to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (“OATH”). But according to investigators, in some cases Kountis never even showed up for the appeal hearing, and simply gave his clients a Xerox copy of an "A" grade, telling them everything went great.

The Department of Investigation doesn't believe the restaurant owners knew they were getting bogus "A" grades—some restaurant owners showed investigators text messages from Kountis, 32, indicating that he was delivering their legit "A" grades. In one instance, he even installed the "A" grade in a restaurant window himself, prosecutors allege. Read the full announcement here [pdf].

The investigation began after a random sweep of some 150 restaurants across the city, during which investigators discovered that Panini Grill on Staten Island was posting an "A" grade when it was supposed to have a "C," and Telly's Taverna was sporting an "A" that should have been a "B." Both restaurants had hired Kountis's Rapid Consulting, Inc. to represent them on their appeals, and the subsequent investigation determined that Kountis allegedly provided them with color photocopies of a real "A" card.

Prosecutors allege that Kountis swiped that legit "A" card from a place called Red Mist, owned by another client of Kountis. Red Mist never received it's "A" grade, and investigators say that's because Kountis was selling copies of it to other establishments, including Bistro 237 ("What's in Bistro 237?") and New Punjab Restaurant and Grill.

Kountis denies all the allegations and claims Rapid Consulting stopped operating as a business last year—he told investigators that a former employee may be using his identity to defraud the restaurants. Among other things, Kountis is charged with forgery, tampering with public records, grand larceny.

In other Health Department restaurant news, two employees at Masala Junction Restaurant in midtown were arrested Tuesday after allegedly trying to bribe an undercover investigator posing as a Health Department inspector. Dilbag Singh and Ahilia Narayan allegedly offered $100 to make their violations go away. They faces charges of bribery and "rewarding official misconduct," both felonies.