218: Michael Grimm Indicted on 20 Counts (Updated)
Updated 12:50 p.m. | Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., was handed a 20-count indictment on Monday morning, relating to the health food store he owned and operated prior to his election to Congress in 2010.
The second-term congressman, who surrendered to authorities in New York earlier in the day, has now been released on a $400,000 bond, according to local news reports. Grimm’s hometown paper, the Staten Island Advance, reported that the terms of his release restricts his travel to the continental United States. He also must surrender his passport, which Grimm reportedly said was in Washington, D.C.
He is expected to be arrainged on Monday and may deliver public remarks outside the courthouse.
Grimm is being charged with impeding the IRS, conspiracy to defraud the United States, filing false tax returns, mail fraud, wire fraud, health care fraud and the hiring of undocumented immigrants. The 20-count indictment did not include any charges related to an ongoing investigation into alleged campaign finance fraud.
He also was indicted for lying under oath. From page 3 of the indictment:
At a news conference on Monday morning at her office’s headquarters, Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the unsealing of the indictment and delivered a blistering account of Grimm’s transgressions, calling them “a pattern of lies and deceit.”
Lynch accused Grimm of failing to report more than $1 million over the course of running his health food store, Healthalicious, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and of developing a plan to “systematically lie to every taxing authority” and a “scheme to evade taxes and keep more money for himself.”
Grimm continued to cover up his illegal activities, Lynch said, even once he was elected to Congress. His actions, Lynch continued, were “breathtaking,” especially considering he had, prior to 2006, worked as an undercover FBI agent sussing out white collar crime on Wall Street. Before that, he served as a U.S. Marine.
“Michael Grimm made the choice to go from upholding the law to breaking it,” she said. “In doing so, he turned his back on every oath he had ever taken.”
The Washington Post and other news outlets had reported earlier on Monday that Grimm had turned himself over to the authorities; on the afternoon of April 25, word got out that Grimm was due to be indicted, while his attorneys insisted he was innocent.
Grimm has not yet offered his own statement as to what he plans to do next.
Here is a breakdown of the 20 counts:
Count one: Obstructing and Impeding the Due Administration of the Internal Revenue Service — Between April 2007 and October 2008, Grimm is alleged to have paid Healthalicious employees off the books, purposefully under-reported Healthalicious’ gross sales and filed false tax returns.
Count two: Conspiracy to Defraud the United States — Around 2008, the New York Republican is charged with conspiring to defraud the United States by “impeding, impairing, obstructing and defeating the lawful government functions of the IRS.” He accomplished this by allegedly paying employees off-the-book and creating a second set of payroll records to disguise it.
Counts three through five: Aiding and Assisting in the Preparation of False and Fraudulent Tax Returns — In collaboration with others, Grimm “did willfully aid and assist in and procure, counsel and advise the preparation and presentation” of inaccurate tax returns to the IRS.
Count six: Health Care Fraud — According to this count, Grimm is alleged to have intentionally defrauded a New York State health care benefit program by lying about the number of employees on his payroll and their hourly wages, so that Healthalicious could receive lower rates. Notable is how Grimm never reported a change in the number of employees or the size of their paychecks over nearly a three year period.
Counts seven through 11: Wire fraud — The congressman purportedly transmitted by wire communication within the Eastern District of New York inaccurate information regarding Healthalicious quarterly cash sales.
Counts 12 through 14: Mail fraud, Eastern District of New York — Grimm allegedly mailed false tax returns and other documents falsifying wage claims through the U.S. Postal Service in the Eastern District of the state.
Counts 15 and 16: Mail Fraud, Southern District of New York — Grimm allegedly mailed false tax returns and other documents falsifying wage claims through the U.S. Postal Service in the Southern District of the state.
Count 17: Perjury — The Republican is charged with lying under oath on or around Jan. 30, 2013 — while he was a member of Congress — in a lawsuit brought against Grimm by two former Healthalicious employees who said they were never paid minimum wage or overtime pursuant to federal and state law. In his testimony, Grimm denied being responsible for payroll issues or at all involved in paying workers aside from “handing out the envelopes.” He also allegedly lied when asked to confirm whether he paid some employees in cash.
Count 18: Perjury — During the same testimony on or around Jan. 30, 2013, Grimm allegedly made false statements under oath, denying he communicated about business matters through a personal, AOL email account.
Count 19: Obstruction of Official Proceeding — Grimm is charged with “knowingly, intentionally and corruptly obstruct[ing] and impede[ing] an official proceeding,” i.e. the testimony he delivered on Jan. 30.
Count 20: Unlawful Employment of Aliens — The New York Republican — an outspoken supporter of overhauling the nation’s immigration system — is charged with “knowingly and intentionally” employing “one or more” undocumented immigrants.