WASHINGTON — Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., surrendered Monday to federal authorities in New York to face criminal charges related to his Healthalicious restaurant.
In a 30-page indictment unsealed Monday, Grimm—in an apparent scheme to avoid tax payments-- is charged with under-reporting income from Healthalicious, where he allegedly employed workers who were illegally in the country. In addition to the tax fraud allegations, the 20-count indictment includes conspiracy, obstruction, mail fraud, perjury and the unlawful employment of illegal immigrants.
Between 2007 and 2010, according to the court documents, Grimm "intentionally'' hired an undisclosed number of illegals and engaged "in a pattern and practice of such hiring and continued employment.''
"In total, Grimm concealed over $1 million in Healthalicious gross receipts alone, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars of employees' wages, fraudulently depriving the federal and New York state governments of sales, income and payroll taxes,'' court documents state.
Grimm, 44, was taken into custody after turning himself in to FBI agents. U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch was holding a news conference to discuss the charges against the former FBI agent. His lawyer, William McGinley, had said Friday that the U.S. attorney's office had "disclosed its intent to file criminal charges" against the lawmaker.
Grimm also has made news over campaign contributions. He has acknowledged that he received $250,000 to $300,000 in campaign donations from followers of Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, an Israeli rabbi. Some of Pinto's followers in New York have said they made tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to Grimm, including gifts passed through straw donors.
Ofer Biton, the businessman who served as Grimm's liaison to Pinto's congregation, pleaded guilty in August to an immigration fraud charge. Diana Durand, a woman who had been romantically involved with the congressman, was charged Friday of using straw donors to make illegal campaign contributions and for making false statements to the FBI. Durand's lawyer said she would plead not guilty.
McGinley said Friday the government has pursued "a politically driven vendetta" against Grimm, who has said he has done nothing wrong. "When the dust settles, he will be vindicated," McGinley said in his statement.
Grimm made national headlines in January when he threatened a TV reporter on camera who attempted to ask him about the long-running federal investigation. Grimm later apologized to NY1 reporter Michael Scotto.
Grimm represents a swing district based on Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. President Obama won New York's 11th Congressional District in 2012 with 52% of the vote.
Contributing: Associated Press