218: Rep. Michael Grimm Expected to Be Indicted (Updated)
Updated 7:36 p.m. | Rep. Michael G. Grimm is expected to be indicted on federal charges in New York, his attorney and a source familiar with the case confirmed to CQ Roll Call.
“After more than two years of investigation plagued by malicious leaks, violations of grand jury secrecy, and strong-arm tactics, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has disclosed its intent to file criminal charges against Congressman Grimm,” said Grimm’s attorney, William McGinley of Patton Boggs LLP, in an emailed statement.
The New York Times reported a source said charges will include mail fraud and wire fraud and focus on his conduct in connection with a health food restaurant he owned on the Upper East Side of Manhattan after he left the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2006. A source familiar with the case confirmed that to CQ Roll Call, and said tax-related charges are also expected to be filed by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Loretta E. Lynch.
“We are disappointed by the government’s decision, but hardly surprised,” McGinley said. “From the beginning, the government has pursued a politically driven vendetta against Congressman Grimm and not an independent search for the truth. Congressman Grimm asserts his innocence of any wrongdoing. When the dust settles, he will be vindicated. Until then, he will continue to serve his constituents with the same dedication and tenacity that has characterized his lifetime of public service as a Member of Congress, Marine Corps combat veteran, and decorated FBI Special Agent.”
The indictment of the New York Republican would come nearly two years after the Justice Department first launched a formal investigation into Grimm’s campaign finances. It began the summer of 2012, several months after revelations first surfaced in a New York Times article that the lawmaker, then a freshman, might have bolstered his first bid for congressional office by filing erroneous campaign finance reports and offering to help get a green card for a non-citizen on condition that the individual help raise money on Grimm’s behalf.
In August of that year, one of Grimm’s biggest fundraisers, a New York rabbi and Israeli citizen named Ofer Biton, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on charges that he made false statements about the source of $400,000 he loaned to a company as part of an entrepreneurial visa program administered by the government.
Foreigners without green cards are barred from giving to U.S. political campaigns and making donations of more than $100 in cash.
This past January, the FBI arrested Diana Durand of Houston, Texas, on charges that she funneled $10,000 to Grimm during his 2010 campaign, using different names.
Grimm, a former FBI agent himself, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Grimm reported $1.17 million in his campaign account at the end of the last quarter. He raised $346,000 in the quarter but spent $50,000 on legal fees to Patton Boggs in the quarter.
The House Ethics Committee, meanwhile, has held off on probing the matter internally in deference to the Justice Department investigation, and because it was never made clear that alleged misconduct took place during his time in office.
Even if Republicans want to dump Grimm, they may be stuck with him, a New York Republican source told CQ Roll Call.