Congressmember Michael Grimm has gone back on his decision not to step down from Congress in the wake of his guilty plea on a felony tax evasion charge.
Grimm, who has represented Staten Island and portions of Brooklyn since 2011, originally said after pleading guilty to one charge of tax evasion on Tuesday, December 23 that he planned to continue serving in the House but has since changed his mind, reportedly after speaking Monday to House Speaker John Boehner.
“After much thought and prayer, I have made the very difficult decision to step down from Congress effective January 5th, 2015,” said the congressmember in a statement. “This decision is made with a heavy heart, as I have enjoyed a very special relationship and closeness with my constituents, whom I care about deeply.
“The events which led to this day did not break my spirit, nor the will of the voters,” he went on. “However, I do not believe that I can continue to be 100 percent effective in the next Congress, and therefore, out of respect for the office and the people I so proudly represent, it is time for me to start the next chapter of my life.”
The pol was charged in April in a 20-count federal indictment—including multiple counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, perjury, one count of conspiring to defraud the United States, one count of impeding the Internal Revenue Service, one count of health care fraud, one count of engaging in a pattern or practice of hiring and continuing to employ unauthorized aliens, and one count of obstructing an official proceeding. All the charges arose out of a business Grimm owned before being elected to Congress called Healthalicious, a small fast food eatery in Manhattan.
Federal officials also charged that Grimm under-reported income at the restaurant by more than $1 million, and paid employees hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages “off the books.”
Federal investigators have spent more than two years looking into Grimm’s campaign finances.
Earlier this year, a friend of Grimm’s, Diana Durand, pled guilty to having funneled illegal contributions to Grimm’s campaign. Previously, Ofer Biton, a fundraiser for Grimm, pled guilty to visa fraud after having been embroiled in an investigation of his money-raising efforts on behalf of the congressmember in Grimm’s first run for office in 2009-2010.
Still, he was elected to a third term in November, winning handily over Democratic candidate Domenic Recchia, despite having been indicted.
“I have seen first-hand how extraordinary the people of this district are – their values, their love of community, and their care for each other in the best and worst of times – it is humbling,” said Grimm. “I am grateful, and I will always keep them in my prayers.”
Grimm is scheduled to be sentenced on June 8, 2015.