A piece of advice for the Grabatos

By Alex P. Vidal

“I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations – one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it—you will regret both.”—Soren Kierkegaard

WE learned from the report of Joseph B.A. Marzan in Daily Guardian on October 24 that Mina, Iloilo mayor Lydia Grabato, mother of United States Ponzi scheme accused Rey Grabato II, will call for a press conference in Iloilo on October 25 “to clear matters.”

The information about the press conference was relayed to the Daily Guardian by the mayor’s husband, Rey (namesake and father of the accused), who is also former mayor of Mina, a fifth-class municipality in the third district of Iloilo province.

The press conference may have something to do with their son’s alleged involvement in the $650 million Ponzi scheme that reportedly cheated roughly 2,000 investors mostly in New Jersey and New York—as well as scheming to dodge $26 million in federal taxes.

If the press conference is about the case of their son, we expect former mayor Rey to also join his wife, the incumbent mayor.

The son Grabato has been touted to be a successful developer with a lucrative business based in New Jersey.

No parent will allow any attempt to besmirch a son’s reputation without putting up a resistance.

In most cases when a family member was implicated in a massive scam or horrific scandal, the parents or relatives wouldn’t speak to the media for fear their words and actions might further incriminate or expose to danger their beleaguered family member.


Not the Grabatos, a respected political clan in Iloilo, who probably believe in their son’s innocence. Parents will never abandon their children who are in trouble and in distress.

But, except if the couple will have something valuable to say that could help in their son’s case; or if the son is a minor, it is best if they say less than necessary—or completely dodge any publicity.

Except if people will question the sources of their wealth and businesses or link them to their son’s alleged fraudulent transactions in New Jersey, yes, they need to speak out and “clear some matters.”

However, it might not be wise and healthy to talk about the son’s scandalous case in public at the moment when an overwhelming outcry, especially from the “conned” investors, appears to be tilting against his favor now that charges have been filed in the US court.

It’s a damn-if-you-do and damn-if-you-don’t situation. Even if they’ll release vague and ambiguous statements to avoid being misinterpreted, people will always think they only want to camouflage something.

The accused is already adult; he can best defend himself—or speak for himself even without his parents.

The best that the parents can do in this situation is provide the son the moral support and otherwise. But let him do the talking about his own case, if needed, and stand on his own feet.


Grabato II, 43 of Hoboken and his partner, Thomas Nicholas Salzano, 64, of Secaucus, both in New Jersey, have been charged in an 18-count indictment unsealed recently, according to U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger.

Grabato II remained at large as of this writing, while Salzano, the suspected mastermind, was already arrested, reports said.

They each face conspiracy to commit securities fraud, securities fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to defraud the U.S., stemming from activities with National Realty Investment Advisors, a high-profile company in Secaucus, according to a report from the New Jersey 101.5.

Both Salzano and Grabato reportedly face up to 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine if convicted of federal securities fraud alone.

The wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud counts are both punishable by a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The fraud reportedly involved selling securities—in the form of membership units in a real estate investment fund known as the NRIA Fund—to people across the United States, including 380 investors in New Jersey, state prosecutors said.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)