If there's anyone who knows about being a criminal, it's former Crazy Eddie CFO Sam Antar because he is one. Perhaps that's why CNBC recruited him to judge fellow criminals' performance much like Michelle Visage judging drag queens on their cakes and tucks (don't Google that).
First, the background on the scam up for judging:
There are smart ways and dumb ways to do income-tax evasion and disgraced former Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm took the stupid route.
Grimm is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to a single count of income-tax evasion and admitting to skimming cash from Healthalicious, the New York restaurant he co-owned before he was elected to Congress. (He was indicted on 20 counts that also included mail fraud, hiring undocumented immigrants and perjury.)
According to the indictment, he evaded sales tax on cash transactions and paid some of his employees in cash (off the books) thereby dodging paying payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, and disability insurance. And, while he only pleaded guilty to one count, he admitted other wrongdoing in a "statement of facts," including hiding over $900,000 in revenue and hiring the undocumented workers.
According to Sam, it wasn't the tax evasion itself that's the problem (after all, Crazy Eddie was pretty good at that), it's that Grimm was really bad at hiding the evidence of it:
My former bosses running Crazy Eddie would never have let an amateur like Grimm participate in our tax-evasion schemes! If you are to engage in any scheme to skim money and evade taxes, there is one golden rule: Never leave an audit trail.
Michael Grimm left behind a body of evidence in the most convenient places for the federal investigators to help bury him. According to the indictment, "GRIMM maintained electronic spreadsheets which detailed the restaurant's true payroll information, including the cash wages, while concealing such cash wages from the payroll processing companies retained by Healthalicious." Furthermore, the indictment stated that, "On numerous occasions from March 2010 through June 2010, GRIMM sent the Manager emails from the GRIMM AOL Email Account containing excerpts from the Second Set of Payroll Records, detailing how much cash each Healthalicious employee should receive for a particular week." His manager, Manuel Perez copped a plea and provided evidence to the FBI. (Grimm should have chosen his fellow co-conspirators more carefully.)
We like this series. Why not take it a step further and assemble a panel of criminal judges to assess fellow criminals' charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent1? We could have Scott London, Sam Antar, Jeff Skilling, and Luke Perry in the role of Reverend Jeremiah Cloutier judging an American Criminal competition to find America's best (worst?) criminal. Sam is definitely onto something here!
Check out the video if you'd like and do share with your tax evading friends so they don't end up a target of Sam's trolling after they're inevitably busted.
1In case you can't tell, I'm binging on RuPaul's Drag Race today