Republican Congressman Michael Grimm was indicted on Monday for charges related to his Manhattan restaurant. The 20 counts mostly consist of fraud and tax charges, including his making $1 million in revenue disappear and evading the Internal Revenue Service. On Friday, it became known that charges would be forthcoming against the congressman, and Grimm vowed to fight them. His lawyer has said that the prosecutors have been driven by a political agenda rather than searching for the truth. Originally it was believed the charges would be related to an ongoing FBI investigation involving his 2010 campaign finances, but that has not turned out to be the target of these indictments. It is unlikely, at this time, that Grimm will be resigning his New York Congressional seat, although it is possible that the House of Representatives could vote to censure him for his actions.
New York Rep. Michael Grimm was indicted Monday on 20 counts of fraud and other charges relating to a Manhattan restaurant he owned and operated, accused by federal prosecutors of evading the IRS and making over $1 million in revenue “disappear.”
The Republican congressman, who is a former FBI agent, was arrested Monday morning a few hours before Justice Department officials unsealed the indictment. He was transported to FBI headquarters in Manhattan.
“Michael Grimm made the choice to go from upholding the law to breaking it,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said. “And in doing so, he turned his back on every oath he had ever taken.”
The congressman has vowed to fight the charges. After learning that charges were forthcoming, Grimm’s attorney William McGinley said Friday that the “government has pursued a politically driven vendetta against Congressman Grimm and not an independent search for the truth.”
The statement said Grimm “asserts his innocence of any wrongdoing” and “will be vindicated.” McGinley said Grimm will “continue to serve his constituents.”
Grimm is a former FBI special agent and Marine Corps combat veteran. Justice Department officials highlighted this profile in describing the significance of the charges.
“He broke our credo,” FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said. “In this 20-count indictment, Representative Grimm honored a new motto: fraud, perjury and obstruction.”
The indictment covered mail and wire fraud charges and charges pertaining to false federal tax returns. At the heart of the indictment was an alleged “scheme” to hide sales and wages at his Upper East Side restaurant, Healthalicious, which he ran from 2007 to 2010 before entering Congress.
Prosecutors described a relatively simple scheme, where Grimm allegedly took cash from the register of his restaurant and used part of that to pay workers off the books. In doing so, he allegedly under-reported his revenue, “making over a million dollars simply disappear.”
Lynch described it as a “deliberate plan to systematically lie to every taxing authority to whom his business had an obligation to report.”
Grimm was also accused of hiring undocumented workers.
The charges did not appear to focus on the financing of Grimm’s 2010 congressional campaign, which was initially thought to be the focus of a long-running FBI investigation.