The Frugal Gutman

You'd think Alberto Gutman would have been more focused. Federal prosecutors alleged in June that the state senator, his wife Marcie, and his business associate Maricela Maury conspired to defraud the government of more than two million dollars in false Medicare claims. Though the case isn't expected to go to trial until next year, the public record already includes some 600 pages of transcripts of covertly recorded conversations between Senator Gutman, Maury, and others. Much of the dialogue centers on the investigation, but as the following exchange reveals, Gutman and Maury had more on their minds than simple scams. Records don't show exactly where or when the conversation took place.

AG: It was my oldest brother's birthday. We went here to the 94th Aero Squadron, a restaurant which is near the airport.

MM: Oh, yes, yes, yes.
AG: Terrible food.
MM: You know, it used to be a good restaurant before.
AG: A long time ago.

MM: It was a good restaurant before for, most of all, meat. But not now. When you want to have good meat -- Victoria Station.

AG: Victoria Station is always good.
MM: Steak and Ale is always good. Always good.
AG: I've never eaten there.

MM: Oh, there is good, good, good. They have good meat there and, you know, this restaurant here, the one which is in the Colonnade, they also give you a good piece of meat downstairs. They give you a good piece of meat.

AG: Yes. I know that one.
MM: I like it there.
AG: They make a delicious chicken pot pie.

MM: Yes, yes, but their meat is also delicious. There are places where they have good meat, you know? Same as places where they have good seafood and where they have good meat. For example, do you go to Casa Juancho?

AG: Do you eat sushi? You don't eat sushi, right?
MM: No.
AG: Don't you like it?
MM: No, I've never eaten it, you know?
AG: Why?
MM: I don't know.
AG: You know, it's addictive.
MM: Yes?
AG: If you start eating it, you become addicted. And it's so healthy.
MM: It's raw fish, right? I'm afraid of it.
AG: ... Millions of people eat it every day.

MM: And let me tell you, I eat a lot of fish now. What I eat the most is fish or seafood.

AG: You don't have liver problems or anything like that, right?
MM: No.
AG: Hepatitis?
MM: Never. I've never had hepatitis.

AG: The only people who have died from that -- go on laugh, it's true -- are the ones with the liver problems.

MM: No, I've never had liver problems. But I tell you, I like seafood very much. But I've always had a little bit of respect for sushi. And yet, that ceviche which the Peruvians make ...

AG: Yes. It's cooked.
MM: No, no. The ceviche isn't.
AG: They cook it with the acid of a lemon ... It's that lemons kill everything. (Laughs.)

MM: Yes, it doesn't let anything ...
AG: Nothing lives ...

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Robert Andrew Powell