Last month it was revealed that the charity of a mystical rabbi to the stars spent $77,000 on a three-week rental in the Hamptons. Now, the Times reports that the followers of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto were allegedly strong-armed into illegally donating over $500,000 to Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm's campaign fund. Ah, so that's how mysticism works.
Based on more than 15 interviews of "followers and associates of the Rabbi," the report states that Grimm and the rabbi's aide, Ofer Biton, an Israeli citizen, would cruise around in Grimm's car and "demand" contributions higher than the legal limit, and often in cash. Here's the part that made Grimm's attorney tug his collar and laugh nervously.
One follower of the rabbi said in an interview that Mr. Grimm pressed him for $20,000. The follower said Mr. Grimm instructed him to meet him “near the F.B.I. building,” in Lower Manhattan, in summer 2010 to give the money. The follower said he handed over $5,000 in cash in an envelope to Mr. Grimm in Mr. Grimm’s car.
Within a week, the follower said, he gave Mr. Grimm a $5,000 check from a friend. Mr. Grimm then repeatedly called the follower and demanded another $10,000, the follower said.
“Every day, he used to call me, over and over,” the follower said.
At first, I thought it was a joke because the allegations are so absurd and ridiculous. But let me be very clear, the information you received is completely false and I know is unsubstantiated, thus completely unfit to print.