Consultant accused of faking New York restaurant ratings
A man who was hired to help restaurants appeal their letter grades from the city’s Health Department has been arrested for handing out forged “A” grades.
Anastasios Kountis, 32, was charged with forgery, tampering with public records, criminal possession of a forged instrument and other charges, according to the Department of Investigation. He faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted.
Kountis, the owner of Rapid Consulting Inc., was allegedly paid $150 by restaurants around the city who thought he would appeal their “B” or “C” health grades on their behalf.
Restaurants, such as Panini Grill in Staten Island and Telly’s Taverna in Queens, believed that Kountis had reduced their violations and earned them an “A” grade. Investigators determined, however, that he had simply photocopied “A” grade cards.
Kountis handed out a total of nine fake grade cards, according to the DOI’s report. None of the restaurant owners were aware that their grade cards were fraudulent, the report states.
In a separate investigation, two employees at Masala Junction restaurant in Manhattan were arrested for bribing an undercover investigator posing as a health inspector.
Dilbag Singh, 27, of Queens and Ahilia Narayan, 47, of New Jersey were each charged with bribery after they tried to hand the undercover investigator $100 to reduce their violations. They face up to 11 years in prison.
“These defendants did not understand the ABC’s of honesty.” DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said. “Using fraud and bribery to circumvent the City’s restaurant health code is not only criminal, it places the public at risk.”