Congressman Charged With Cheating On Taxes And Hiring Undocumented Immigrants At Health Food Restaurant
An indictment filed in federal court Friday alleges New York City Congressman Michael Grimm broke a litany of laws to maximize profits while he ran a health food restaurant on Manhattan's Upper East Side from 2007 to 2010. Grimm's alleged "schemes" include hiding over $1 million in earnings to pay lower taxes and knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants.
According to the indictment, Grimm, a Republican whose district includes Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, owned 45 percent of the restaurant, "Healthalicious," through a company called "Granny Sayz" and "oversaw the day-to-day operations" of the restaurant from 2007 until 2010. The indictment includes 20 different charges against Grimm relating to the restaurant including "conspiracy to defraud the United States," multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, "unlawful employment of aliens," and perjury charges stemming from a 2013 deposition where Grimm, who was elected in 2010, denied paying Healthalicious employees in cash.
"In 2007, Michael Grimm, former Marine, former FBI agent, accountant and attorney, was poised for success as a small business owner. Instead, as alleged, 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. Even after his return to public service, when called to account for his actions and questioned under oath Grimm went for the cover up, and lied about his role in his own business," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement announcing the charges.
Grimm reportedly surrendered to the authorities Monday morning and was expected to appear in court later in the day. On Friday, Grimm's attorney, William McGinley, announced he expected his client to be indicted and said the charges were part of a "politically driven vendetta against Congressman Grimm."
"Congressman Grimm asserts his innocence of any wrongdoing. When the dust settles, he will be vindicated. Until then, he will continue to serve his constituents with the same dedication and tenacity that has characterized his lifetime of public service as a Member of Congress, Marine Corps combat veteran, and decorated FBI Special Agent," McGinley said.
Neither McGinley or Grimm's office immediately responded to a request for comment Monday.
Federal authorities have been investigating Grimm since at least 2012 for various allegations involving his campaign fundraising operation. In January, a Texas woman was arrested and charged with illegally funnelling $10,000 into Grimm's war chest through straw donors. Last August, an aide to a high profile Israeli rabbi who raised six figure sums for Grimm from the rabbi's followers pleaded guilty to visa fraud.
Grimm is currently being challenged by former New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia. On Friday, Recchia issued a brief statement about the case.
"In light if today's news, it is important to let the federal authorities do their jobs and focus on this ongoing matter. I'm going to continue my focus on ensuring that the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn have a voice in Congress fighting for their needs," Recchia said. "That's why I entered this race, and the news today has not changed that endeavor. I will continue to campaign hard and speak with voters about how I am going to fight for the middle class by creating jobs, offering better transportation options, and improving our schools."
Read the full indictment below.