Breaking: House Republican arrested for obstruction, perjury
posted at 9:21 am on April 28, 2014 by Ed Morrissey
The last we heard from Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), he threatened to throw a reporter off of a balcony. He has bigger problems than anger-management issues today, though. Grimm turned himself in to the FBI today to answer charges of fraud related to a health-food restaurant he owned prior to his election to Congress:
New York Congressman Michael Grimm surrendered to federal authorities today after being indicted on campaign finance violations.
Grimm, a Republican from New York City’s borough of Staten Island, had gained notoriety when he was caught on tape after the State of the Union speech earlier this year threatening to throw a reporter off the Capitol’s balcony and said he would “break you in half, like a boy.”
Grimm, a former FBI agent, was indicted on charges of fraud, obstruction and perjury.
That ABC News report may be slightly inaccurate, at least on the nature of the charges. Grimm had been under investigation for campaign-finance violations, but these charges are not entirely related to that issue, according to the Washington Post:
Grimm spent much of the weekend hunkered down, bracing for the unveiling of the federal charges, which were due to be disclosed after his surrender. He turned himself in to the FBI at an undisclosed location Monday morning and was taken to Lower Manhattan for processing. The charges stem from his ownership of a Manhattan health-food restaurant that has ties to an Israeli fundraiser who served as a liaison between Grimm and a mystic, celebrity rabbi whose followers donated more than $500,000 to Grimm’s campaign in 2010.
While the investigation has focused on Grimm’s fundraising, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch is expected to announce an indictment centered on his restaurant business, which Grimm launched after leaving the FBI in 2006, according to officials familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the pending charges.
The state fined the Upper East Side restaurant, Healthalicious, $88,000 for not providing workers compensation. In a lawsuit against the company, workers accused the owners of not paying proper wages and sometimes giving out cash payments to skirt tax and business laws.
It is unclear whether federal prosecutors will eventually expand the charges to encompass Grimm’s campaign activities, but investigators have been moving on that side of the case against several key players, some with ties to the restaurant.
Jazz wrote about Grimm’s dilemma on Saturday, and noted that the filing deadline for a primary challenge to Grimm had already passed:
The filing deadline for the race in the 11th has already passed. Should this develop into a situation where Grimm either had to step down or was so exposed and injured that he couldn’t possibly prevail, the GOP might still be forced to either run him anyway or allow the Democrats to run for the seat unopposed. It’s not unheard of that, upon appropriate petition, a court could step in and allow the Republican party leaders from the area to put up another candidate, but that’s not a sure thing.
New York television station WPIX reported that others are now questioning the timing of this indictment in relation to the election. They also report that a woman romantically linked to Grimm has been indicted for strawman donations:
The same day Grimm’s attorney announced criminal charges against the lawmaker were pending, a Texas woman who has been romantically involved with Grimm was indicted in New York on charges of making illegal campaign contributions.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn unsealed the indictment against Diana Durand on Friday.
The indictment said she caused more than $10,000 in donations to be made in the names of other people between November 2009 and October 2010. It says she lied in June 2012 when she told the FBI she didn’t reimburse straw donors for their contributions to Grimm’s campaign.
Durand’s attorney Stuart Kaplan said his client and Grimm became friends before he ran for office. He said she’ll plead not guilty.
When Robert Torricelli turned out to be toxically corrupt, New Jersey courts allowed Democrats to replace him on the ballot with the late Frank Lautenberg, even though the filing deadline for ballot changes had passed. New York Republicans may want to start that process now, but it’s no slam dunk that the court in New York will follow suit even under similar circumstances. Republicans might end up stuck with Grimm on the ticket.