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Congressman Michael Grimm To Plead Guilty To Felony Count of Tax Evasion

December 23, 2014  |  Posted by: JammedUp
Congressman Michael Grimm To Plead Guilty To Felony Count of Tax Evasion Image courtesy of nationaljournal.com

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After vowing to fight his criminal indictment “tooth and nail,” Rep. Michael Grimm of Staten Island has agreed to plead guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of tax evasion, the Daily News has learned.

Grimm’s admission of guilt will place his congressional career in danger, exactly seven weeks after he won reelection by an overwhelming margin.

Grimm was scheduled to enter the plea Tuesday before Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn Federal Court.

A Republican who served in the Marines and worked as an FBI agent, Grimm was charged in a 20-count federal indictment in April with hiding more than $1 million in sales and wages at an Upper East Side restaurant he co-owned, and with hiring undocumented immigrants.

He pleaded not guilty, and his trial was to begin in February.

Despite the indictment, Grimm trounced Democrat Domenic Recchia 55% to 42% on Nov. 4 to win a third term.

Recchia made the criminal case a central issue of his campaign, and at a debate on Oct. 17, Grimm was asked, “If found guilty, would you resign?”

“Certainly, if I was not able to serve, then of course I would step aside and there would be a special election,” he replied.

But if he can escape prison time, Grimm is expected to try to hold onto his seat, arguing he would still be “able to serve,” a source familiar with his thinking said.

Under federal law, Grimm faces up to three years behind bars on the tax evasion charge. As a first-time offender, however, he might not have to serve any time. That decision will be up to Chen when she sentences him sometime next year.

If Grimm is spared prison and refuses to resign, it would be up to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to decide whether to force him to step down.

A Boehner confidant said Monday that the speaker likely would pressure Grimm to quit.

Boehner has been “merciless on discipline,” the confidant told The News. “The bar is extremely high.”

The source noted how Boehner, as House minority leader, forced Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) to resign in 2010 for having an affair with a female staffer.

Boehner was equally tough in dealing with Christopher Lee, a Buffalo-area Republican who was pressured to quit in 2011 after emailing a shirtless photo of himself to a woman who posted a personal ad on Craigslist.

If Grimm somehow remained in Congress, he would be virtually powerless.

Under House Ethics Rule 23, any member convicted of a crime that carries a possible sentence of at least two years “should refrain” from voting on legislation “until he is reelected after the date of conviction.”

That means Grimm would be barred from participating in all House votes for the entire 114th Congress.

Grimm made national headlines last winter when he threatened to throw a television reporter over a balcony for asking about the federal investigation of his business dealings.

Investigators spent two years looking at his ownership and management of a restaurant, Healthalicious, from 2007 until 2010, when he was elected to Congress.

The indictment charged that Grimm kept two sets of books to hide more than $1 million in receipts and hundreds of thousands of dollars more in wages to lower his payroll, income and sales tax obligations.

Grimm said he was the victim of a “political witch hunt” designed to “assassinate my character and remove me from office.” He vowed to fight the charges “tooth and nail.”

“I know I’m a moral man, a man of integrity,” he said.

From the Daily News

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