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December 23, 2014

Is US Rep. Grimm likely to advocate for federal sentencing reform following his felony plea?

The question in the title of this post is my first thought after reading this interesting Reuters story in the wake of a high-profile federal tax fraud plea entered today.  The piece is headlined "U.S. Representative Grimm says will not resign after pleading guilty to tax fraud," and here are details:

U.S. Representative Michael Grimm of New York said he would not resign from Congress following his guilty plea on Tuesday to a federal felony tax charge.  "As long as I'm able to serve, I'm going to," said Grimm, who noted he easily won a third term in November despite a 20-count federal indictment unveiled in April.

Grimm, a Republican, pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court to aiding the preparation of a false tax return in connection with a health food restaurant, Healthalicious, that he co-owned before his political career.  "While operating a restaurant, we underestimated the gross receipts and used some of the money to pay employees off the books and some other expenses," Grimm said in court.

As part of a plea deal, Grimm, whose trial had been scheduled for February, also signed a statement of facts, admitting to concealing over $900,000 in gross receipts from 2007 to 2010 and lying during a 2013 deposition....

A Boehner spokesman said he would not comment until he has discussed the issue with Grimm. Grimm told reporters he has had "private discussions" with leadership but would not elaborate.

The 44-year-old former Marine and FBI agent, who represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn in New York City, faces a maximum of three years in prison when he is sentenced on June 8.  His lawyers indicated they would seek a more lenient sentence.

Grimm told reporters he was accepting responsibility for a "mistake" that occurred before he joined Congress.  "For the past four years, I've been a very effective, strong member of Congress," he said, adding that he had received many words of support from his constituents.

House members who plead guilty to a crime that carries two or more years in prison "should" refrain from voting on the floor or participating in committee business, according to House rules.  The House could also vote to reprimand, censure or even expel Grimm, as it did in the case of Democratic Representative James Traficant, who was found guilty of taking bribes and other crimes in 2002 but refused to resign.

Prosecutors had accused Grimm of hiring illegal immigrants, paying staffers under the table and under-reporting how much he spent in wages.  He was also charged with lying under oath about his practices while defending against a lawsuit brought by former Healthalicious employees.

The indictment grew out of a probe of Grimm's fundraising, morphing into one of the highest-profile prosecutions by the office of Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, who has since been nominated to become U.S. attorney general.  Lynch in a statement said the plea made clear that U.S. authorities "will vigorously investigate and prosecute fraud wherever we find it, and that no one is above the law."

Given that the last three US Presidents have all admitted violating federal drug laws and have all been (reasonably?) accused of violating many more federal laws, I am moved by Rep Grimm's claims that his admission of violating federal tax laws in the past should not require him to give up his current job making new laws.  Moreover, as the title of this post hints, I think there could be real value in having a member of Congress with personal experience with the federal criminal justice system as a defendant.

December 23, 2014 at 05:02 PM | Permalink


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Whatever happened to death before dishonor?

Posted by: just me again | Dec 23, 2014 5:35:30 PM

they had to can that rule or there would be no politician alive in the WHOLE WORLD!

Posted by: rodsmith | Dec 23, 2014 10:41:28 PM

He was the victim of a witch hunt by a vile feminist lawyer. The duty is to resist to the utmost, and to seek her personal destruction. Attack with e-discovery of all her computers looking for her hate filled wrongful purpose. She needs to resign. And now the vile feminist lawyer take her witch hunt national.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 23, 2014 10:53:41 PM

He should introduce legislation to defund all raises for federal prosecutors. All should be subjected to full audits yearly, phone records, expenses, computers. From a public safety point of view, he should make them members of the civil service, and not at will employees subject to bullying by the political hacks that supervise them. There should be a whistleblower fund to reward all those reporting improper behaviors by these political hacks. There should be a public list of investigation targets selected for non-prosecution discretion, to see favoritism in the other direction.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 24, 2014 6:59:32 AM

a former FBI agent....he should know better, a definite indication of a liar with no integrity and should also be shamed for disgracing all former marines. Boot him out of office.

Posted by: double standard | Dec 24, 2014 1:34:22 PM

slimeball lying opportunist with no integrity, fire him

Posted by: Viewer | Dec 24, 2014 1:36:28 PM

Why has he lost all usefulness if his crime was a paper work problem, not a real crime, a made up artificial crime, and now he understand the stupidity of the criminal justice system?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 24, 2014 2:44:11 PM

I think because he should of known better. He was pulling a shady sneek around behind the barn type act.

Just about what most expect from joe avg in congress. Yes, fire him.

Revoke all benefits. Congress and senators have way too many benefits.

Cut their benefits down to what the avg american has. They need to get medical bills sonthey understand what uts like. If you kive in an Ivory Tower hiw in hell do you relate to the rest of the world.

This is whats wrong with the federal Ausa, they live and operate in a vacuum. Good god, spitting on the side walk is something theyd like prosecute. Jack the Ausa up.

Posted by: 187Midwest Guy | Dec 24, 2014 8:25:41 PM

Because he is a Republican, not a word about his courageous, medalled military service, not his FBI stint. So much for special courts and mitigation for prior service by left wing hypocrites.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 24, 2014 11:02:39 PM

"'As long as I'm able to serve, I'm going to,' said Grimm, who noted he easily won a third term in November despite a 20-count federal indictment unveiled in April."

According to a report at TheHill.com, during the election and right after the indictment against him was revealed, "Grimm asserted his innocence, and called himself 'a moral man' and a 'man of integrity.'" His third term might not have been so easily won if he had instead proclaimed during the election that he was guilty and that he lacked integrity. So his protestations about his mandate aren't exactly convincing.

Still, in spite of my personal dislike for Mr. Grimm, the offense to which he pleaded guilty seems like overkill. Why should not this be a misdemeanor with a maximum of one year in prison? Does anyone really think that people wouldn't be deterred by the threat of one year of prison, while they would be deterred by three years? Ironically, he might face more prison time than a less public person simply because of his high profile position. The court will imagine that it is "sending a message" by sending an elected politician to prison, even though a normal person who previously served his country as a marine and who has no criminal record might face probation for the same offense.

As to whether he should keep his position, it seems like this is where the electorate should weigh in on the matter with a special election. Do you still want to send an admitted fraud, who also lied to get elected, to Congress? If so, then have at it. Fortunately for the rest of us, there are more than 400 other representatives that (as far as we know) aren't tax dodges.

Finally, if he does advocate for sentencing reform, it would be a disservice to other advocates. Someone facing time in prison advocating sentencing reform doesn't exactly exude credibility.

Posted by: C.E. | Dec 26, 2014 7:19:23 AM

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