Updated 1:49 p.m. | A federal judge has sentenced former Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., to eight months in federal prison for tax evasion.
U.S. District Court Judge Pamela K. Chen of the Eastern District of New York handed Grimm the sentence at the Brooklyn court around noon Friday. According to local media reports, Chen had choice words for Grimm, saying his “moral compass” needed some “reorientation.” Grimm also received 200 hours of community service and will have to pay restitution to the IRS, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, and the New York State Insurance Fund, though the amount has yet to be determined.
“This prosecution and sentence should be a reminder to those in positions of trust that we and our partners in the FBI and IRS will vigorously pursue whomever commits fraud,” Acting U.S. Attorney Kelly T. Currie said in a statement Friday.
In April 2014, Grimm was handed a 20-count federal indictment alleging tax evasion relating to the restaurant he owned and operated before he was elected to Congress in 2010. The New York Republican was re-elected in November despite the charges. But in December, Grimm plead guilty to one count of tax fraud, and resigned from his seat the following day.
Prosecutors argued Grimm should have received between two and two and a half years in prison for his offense, while Grimm’s lawyers argued the former congressman should only receive probation.
Though Grimm pleaded guilty to the fourth count, which involved filing inaccurate tax returns to the IRS, he faced numerous other charges related to the Manhattan restaurant he owned, Healthalicious. The charges included mail fraud, wire fraud, hiring undocumented immigrants, failing to report more than $1 million and perjury.
According to court documents, as part of his guilty plea, Grimm signed a letter stating that he under-reported money earned through the restaurant, failed to report wages paid to workers and lied under oath.
Prosecutors pointed to Grimm’s position as a member of Congress and in law enforcement as evidence he deserved prison time. “The defendant’s offense conduct is particularly troubling in light of the fact that he held positions as an FBI special agent and as a member of Congress in which he swore an oath to support and defend the laws of this country,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.
They argued “Grimm chose lies and deception over honest dealings” and, said “it was fraud by design.”
Grimm’s lawyers, arguing in court documents, wrote “his life has been exceptional in its selfless devotion to this country” and he is “tremendously remorseful over his offense.”
His lawyers also argued Grimm had suffered enough, pointing to his resignation from office and the fact he “has forfeited a significant congressional pension that would have vested at the end of 2015.” His lawyers also argued Grimm is the sole caretaker for his mother and sister, and probation was doled out in related cases.
Lastly, Grimm’s lawyers cautioned against letting the high-profile nature of the case influence the outcome. “Mr. Grimm should not be treated different than other similarly situated defendants —or receive a different outcome — merely because this case is in the news,” they wrote.
Grimm’s resignation prompted a special election in the District that encompasses Staten Island and a portion of Brooklyn. Dan Donovan, a Republican who was the Staten Island district attorney, easily won the race for the seat. Though national Democrats were not active in the special election, they see the district as a prime target for a Democratic pickup in 2016.
Emily Cahn contributed to this report.
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