Former Republican Congressmember Michael Grimm, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion and other federal charges nearly three years ago, has his sights set on his old seat.
Grimm – who got considerably less than the sentence prescribed by federal sentencing guidelines, 18 to 24 months — was released seven months into his eight-month sentence in May of last year, under the condition that he continue the rest of it under house arrest.
U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen – who sentenced Grimm in July, 2015 – also served the ex-pol a year’s probation and 200 hours of community service.
Before his guilty plea the December prior, Grimm — who represented Staten Island and portions of Brooklyn from 2011 until early January, 2015, and had just won reelection to a third term — faced 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. He was also charged with under-reporting income at the restaurant by over $1 million, and paying employees hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages “off the books.”
Grimm’s lawyers had asked the court to go easy on him, and spare him jail time; prosecutors, on the other hand, had requested a 30-month sentence.
At his sentencing, the former Bay Ridge elected apologized for his transgression, saying that he had, “made bad decisions that I’ll regret for the rest of my life,” because he feared failing.
Grimm echoed those sentiments on Sunday, October 1 while officially announcing his run to a crowd of supporters in New Dorp, Staten Island, adding that the “way we all move forward” is with his reelection.
“I believe that I will not be judged by my transgressions but how I rebound in spite of them,” he said. “I have a lot to offer and I know that my leadership is still sorely needed right here in Staten Island, in Brooklyn and in Washington where the swamp still needs to be drained.”
Of his resume, the former pol told a parking lot full of friends, family and former constituents that, “Together, we moved mountains. We defied all the odds. We went to Washington in 2011 and we literally turned it upside down. Business as usual wasn’t happening on our watch.”
Nor will it, if he returns, Grimm pledged, crediting his supporters — and the grace of God — for his second coming.
“I almost lost my faith completely,” he admitted. “I was angry. I kept asking God, ‘How could this happen to me [after] almost 20 years of service – most of which was in harm’s way?’ And though I’m sure I’ll never know the full answer, I do know that I’m a better, stronger well-rounded human being for having survived it all.”
Grimm began serving his sentence in September of last year. The seat he left vacant was filled by current Congressmember Dan Donovan, who was elected to serve the 11th C.D. in a May, 2015 special election.
Grimm will face off against Donovan – who, the hopeful said Sunday “doesn’t get up to bat” but instead “rides the bench” – in what is sure to be a heated primary election for the Republican nod in 2018.
“My opponent’s a nice guy, right? A bit of a sweetheart. But let me tell you something: He’s never going to get anything done, not ever,” Grimm said. “And in Washington, nice guys finish last.
“The truth is, he only became your congressman because it fell in his lap.”
As of publication time, Donovan’s campaign had not responded to a request for comment.