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

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
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.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs