N.Y. Rep. Michael Grimm Indicted On 20 Counts For Fraud

GOP congressman Michael Grimm has pleaded not guilty to 20 charges related to a restaurant he operated before running for Congress.

N.Y. Rep. Michael Grimm Indicted On 20 Counts For Fraud
Office of Rep. Michael Grimm

Prosecutors unsealed a 20-count indictment Monday against U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm of New York. He's accused of concealing over $1 million in profit from state and federal tax authorities.

Grimm has served two terms in the House and is up for re-election this November. His campaign finances have been the focus of a two-year investigation, which resulted in charges against two of his campaign fundraisers. (Via C-SPAN)

Grimm made headlines earlier this year for threatening an NY1 reporter on-camera after the reporter tried to ask Grimm about the investigation.

GRIMM: "If you ever do that to me again, I'll throw you off this f****** balcony." 

But the list of charges unsealed Monday made no mention of Grimm's campaign finances, instead focusing on the Manhattan health food restaurant Healthalicious, which Grimm owned and operated from 2007-2010 before his election to Congress. (Via Fox News)

Grimm is accused of paying his employees with off-the-books cash to hide over $1 million from state and federal payroll taxes. He's also charged with mail and wire fraud, perjury, obstruction and hiring illegal immigrants. (Via U.S. District Courts)

In a press conference announcing the charges, U.S. attorney Loretta Lynch accused Grimm of violating the ideals he once represented as a member of the FBI.

"Michael Grimm made the choice to go from upholding the law to breaking it. In so doing, he turned his back on every oath he'd ever taken." (Via WCBS)

Grimm has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and on Monday vowed to continue his re-election campaign. "I know I'm a moral man, a man of integrity, and I also know that I have a lot more service and leadership to provide this country." (Via Politico)

But these charges might have already cost Grimm his seat. The GOP congressman is facing a stiff challenge in his swing district from Democrat Domenic Recchia, and an indictment is likely to cost Grimm voter support and fundraising dollars. (Via YNN)

And it's unlikely the Republican Party will be able to replace Grimm before the election. As City & State points out, thanks to New York's stringent electoral laws, the only way the GOP could legally get Grimm off the ballot is by nominating him for another office — like Supreme Court Justice, for example.

"New York law forbids a person from running for two public offices at the same time​. ... Once nominated, he would relinquish his ballot position as a congressional candidate, and GOP leaders could nominate someone else—presumably a candidate with sufficient name recognition and fundraising prowess to wage a campaign in six or seven weeks."

So far, congressional Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, haven't publicly commented on the issue. But CNN's Dana Bash reports the GOP is quietly looking for a replacement for Grimm.

"My understanding is that there are active discussions going on within the Republican party to try and get him off the ballot."

Under federal law, Grimm could face decades behind bars if convicted on some of the more serious charges. Grimm and his lawyer have previously denounced the charges as politically motivated.