The criminal complaint filed against Biton in August makes no mention of blackmail, embezzlement or the campaign allegations, but focuses instead on information he submitted in 2010 when he applied for a visa available to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in a U.S. business.
In his application, Biton said most of his investment money had been loaned to him by a family friend. But the FBI said it had bank records showing that the money had actually been funneled through an account controlled by an unnamed "co-conspirator," who, in turn, had demanded most of the cash from an unnamed witness to pay off a debt. Biton's lawyer, Jeffrey Udell, declined to comment.
Pinto's attorney in New York, Arthur Aidala, said the rabbi was "very satisfied with the arrest, and looks forward to the prosecution of this defendant and others who have done harm to rabbi Pinto and his family."
The investigation has been more than a distraction for Grimm as he battles for re-election against Democratic challenger Mark Murphy. His campaign has incurred $320,000 in legal fees this year, according to campaign records.
Grimm's lawyer, William McGinley, confirmed that the FBI is probing claims of illegal donations by Pinto's followers, and that the campaign has turned over documents, but he said there is no evidence of any wrongdoing. He said Grimm was being victimized by a smear campaign and "malicious leaks" by law enforcement.
"Yes, there is an investigation, but we have no reason to believe that it will lead to charges and every reason to believe that ... the (Department of Justice) investigation will vindicate Congressman Grimm," McGinley said.
Associated Press writers Tom Hays in New York and Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.