(Bloomberg) U.S. Congressman Michael Grimm pleaded guilty to a federal tax charge, taking the possibility of prison time in stride as he told reporters after the proceeding that he won’t give up his House seat.
The New York Republican, who had been accused of hiding as much as $1 million in revenue from a Manhattan health-food restaurant he co-owned, pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to one count of aiding in the preparation and filing of a false tax return.
Under his plea deal, he agreed not to appeal if he’s sentenced to 2 years and 9 months or less, according to U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn, New York. He could also be asked to pay restitution and other penalties at his sentencing, which is scheduled for June 8. He faces a maximum prison sentence of three years, according to Chen.
“As of right now, I’m still in a capacity to serve and that’s exactly what I plan on doing,” Grimm told reporters after the hearing. “I’m going to get back to work and work as hard as I can.”
Grimm, 44, a former FBI agent who represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, was re-elected in November to serve a third two-year term, which would start in January. He won even though he had been indicted in April on 20 counts of fraud, perjury and other charges tied to claims he hid sales and under- represented wages at Healthalicious, a restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
The top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, called on Grimm to resign even before his plea. Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, said there won’t be any announcement until Boehner speaks with Grimm.
Grimm said yesterday that he had spoken with “leadership” about his situation, without providing more details.
Grimm, who oversaw operations at the restaurant before he was first elected in 2010, was accused of concealing under-the-table payments to workers, many of whom were employed illegally, from payroll processing companies.
The congressman said in court that he “underestimated the gross receipts” for the restaurant and “used some of that money to pay employees off the books” as well as business expenses. The charge he pleaded guilty to related to tax information for 2009.
“With today’s guilty plea, Michael Grimm has admitted that while running his business he chose lies and deception over honest dealings with federal and state authorities as well as his own employees,” Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, said in a statement. Lynch has been nominated to replace U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Michael Long, the New York Conservative Party chairman, said in a phone interview that constituents are likely to remain supportive of Grimm.
“He won fairly handily and I think he has fairly strong support,” Long said.
The case is U.S. v. Grimm, 1:14-cr-00248, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York. (Brooklyn).
—With assistance from Billy House in Washington.
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