Michael Grimm, a Republican member of the United States Congress from New York City, plans to plead guilty to a single count of tax evasion, bringing to an end the case that has dogged the 44-year-old, two-term Staten Island representative for months.
Until Monday, Grimm had remained adamant about his innocence, insisting that he would be “completely exonerated” of the allegation that he dodged taxes on a cool million in income that he took in from a Manhattan restaurant of which he was a co-owner before he was elected to congress in 2010.
Despite a 20-count indictment on the tax evasion charges hanging over his head, and the prospect of a trial that was due to start this month, Grimm was re-elected to a third term easily this November, defeating his Democratic opponent Dominic Recchia by a 13 percentage point margin.
The allegations obviously were a cause of deep concern to Michael Grimm. In an October candidate’s debate, he faced the possibility that he would be found guilty on the charges and offered to resign if that transpired.
In January, when a New York local cable news reporter asked Grimm about the charges in an interview following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, the former Marine and retired FBI agent threatened the reporter with bodily harm, telling him on camera, “I’ll break you in half!” Grimm also threatened to hurl the much smaller reporter over a balcony rail.
Grimm later apologized for those threats.
By pleading guilty to one count of assisting in the preparation of a fraudulent tax return, Grimm avoids the potential political and personal disaster of a public trial on the charges. But the troubles are not over yet for the Congressman.
The single charge which Grimm is now expected to plead guilty to carries a potential prison term of three years. But it will be left to a judge to decide whether Grimm spends any time behind bars. As a first-time felon, it will be possible for a sentencing judge to simply let him walk free.
Grimm, at one time, was prosecuted by former United States attorney Loretta Lynch, who is now Obama’s nominee to succeed outgoing Eric Holder as U.S. Attorney General.
Lynch said earlier this year that Grimm, “made the choice to go from upholding the law to breaking it. In so doing he turned his back on every oath he had ever taken.”
Congressman Michael Grimm was scheduled to appear in court Monday to enter what is now predicted to be his guilty plea.