Rep. Michael Grimm surrenders to authorities in fraud case


WASHINGTON, D.C. — New York Rep. Michael Grimm, facing indictment on charges in connection with allegedly fraudulent business practices, surrendered to federal law enforcement Monday.

In a federal indictment unsealed Monday at the U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn, Grimm, a former Marine and FBI agent, was charged with fraudulently underreporting more than $1 million in sales and wages at his Healthalicious fast-food location in Manhattan.

In all, Grimm was indicted on 20 counts, including five of mail fraud, five of wire fraud, three of aiding and assigning in the preparation of false tax returns, two of perjury, and one each of employing unauthorized aliens, engaging in health care fraud, conspiring to defraud the U.S., impeding the Internal Revenue Service and obstructing an official proceeding.

Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, noted that in 2007 Grimm, also an attorney and accountant, “was poised for success as a small-business owner.” Instead, she said, “Grimm made the choice to go from upholding the law to breaking it. In so doing, he turned his back on every oath he had ever taken.”

FBI assistant director George Venizelos, noting the Republican’s background as a Marine and former FBI agent, said Grimm “billed himself as a patriot and an American hero,” but was in fact “anything but an upstanding citizen.”

“As a former FBI agent, Representative Grimm should understand the motto ‘fidelity, bravery and integrity.’ Yet he broke our credo at nearly every turn,” Venizelos said. “In this 20-count indictment, Representative Grimm honored a new motto: fraud, perjury and obstruction.”

The 44-year-old lawmaker has been dogged by an investigation into personal and campaign finances for nearly two years. In January, Grimm garnered national attention for threatening to throw a New York TV reporter off a Capitol balcony after the journalist asked about the investigation.

Grimm will likely face pressure to surrender the competitive Staten Island-based seat he has represented since 2010. A spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, declined to comment on the matter. Lawmakers were returning to the Capitol on Monday after a two-week spring recess, and any official reaction would likely come after party leaders met to discuss the matter.

Grimm’s attorney announced Friday that the charges were likely to come down, and maintained that the congressman had done nothing wrong.

“When the dust settles, he will be vindicated,” the attorney, William McGinley, said at the time.

 

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