News / USA

US Congressman Faces 20-Count Criminal Charge

U.S. Representative Michael Grimm talks to reporters outside his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 29, 2014.
U.S. Representative Michael Grimm talks to reporters outside his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 29, 2014.
U.S. Congressman Michael Grimm, a former FBI agent who once investigated corruption cases, now faces a number of federal criminal charges.
 
A 20-count indictment says Grimm hid more than $1 million in receipts from his Manhattan restaurant, called “Healthalicious,” from 2007 to 2010. He left the business upon election to Congress.
 
The government’s case against Grimm, now in his second congressional term, charges him with “obstructing and impeding IRS (Internal Revenue Service) functions, conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
 
The charges include “false tax returns to be filed, mail fraud, wire fraud, health care fraud, perjury, obstruction of an official proceeding, and the hiring of undocumented workers,” according to U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.
 
Unlike many countries, where government officials and lawmakers have immunity from prosecution while in office, no such protection exists in the United States. Over the years, Congressmen, state governors, and others have faced trial and even prison.
 
Grimm, a Republican who represents part of New York City in the House of Representatives, sounded a defiant tone after his April 28 arraignment in Brooklyn Federal District Court.
 
“Since day one, the press has been fed all kinds of innuendos and accusations to support – and let me be very clear – a political witch hunt,” Grimm told reporters. “And this political witch hunt was designed to do a couple of things, but first and foremost, [to] assassinate my character, and remove me from office.”
 
Grimm and his supporters claim what also proves that this case is politically motivated was its being officially filed weeks after the deadline passed for adding or removing candidates from the November 2014 election ballot. This, they say, was meant to prevent his party from putting someone else up for Congress, weakening Republican chances to retain his seat.
 
The restaurant related charges against Grimm may not be the only ones he will face.
 
Second investigation

There are numerous reports that there is a second investigation underway connected to his congressional campaign fundraising activities.
 
One allegation involves the possibility that a Rabbi raised a half-million dollars by collecting from foreign nationals, which is prohibited under U.S. law.
 
Grimm’s former girlfriend, Diana Durand, has entered a “not guilty” plea to a three count federal indictment charging that she illegally reimbursed some people who contributed to Grimm’s 2010 race.
 
Meanwhile, the Republican Party has effectively gone from strongly backing his 2014 re-election bid to washing its hands of him.
 
“They’ve withdrawn their support,” said reporter Alexandra Jaffee at the politics-focused Washington newspaper The Hill. “We’ve been told by sources “that they won’t be fundraising for him. They won’t be spending on his race anymore. And that’s good for them [the Republican Party].”
 
The Republican National Congressional Committee, which initially included Grimm in a 10-candidate fundraising drive slated for later this month, has dropped him from that list.
 
Still, political analysts say there may be legal maneuvering by his defense attorneys to try to give him the best possible chance to save his seat in Congress.
 
“You want the court hearing after the election, so the people of Staten Island [the district which Grimm represents] can choose whether to vote for Representative Grimm or not,” said Mark Rom, a political science professor at Georgetown University. “So that may give him a little breathing room.
 
“On the other hand, it’s really hard to run for Congress when you have the feds looking over your shoulder, and you know you will be brought to a courtroom after the election,” Rom said.
 
No trial date has been set.
 
Looking forward

Grimm defiantly presses forward with his election bid.
 
“I know who I am, and I know what I’ve done for this country for almost 20 years now,” he said. “I know I am a moral man, a man of integrity,” he says. “And I know I have a lot more service and leadership to provide [to] this country.”
 
Assistant FBI Director George Venizelos sees Grimm quite differently.
 
“As a former FBI agent, Representative Grimm should understand the [FBI] motto - ‘Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity,’” he said in a statement. “Yet he broke our credo at nearly every turn. In this 20-count indictment, Representative Grimm honored a new motto: fraud, perjury, and obstruction.

Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid