Originally published on July 18, 2015, at NationofChange.org
Former FBI agent and New York Congressman, Michael Grimm, was sentenced on Friday to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud. In connection with his guilty plea, Grimm also admitted to exploiting immigrant workers, underreporting wages, and repeatedly lying under oath. Although he had been elected to a third term, Grimm resigned from Congress earlier this year to avoid an investigation by the House Committee on Ethics.
“Former Congressman Grimm made a conscious decision to break the law and benefit personally by underreporting $900,000 in restaurant gross receipts and lowering payroll taxes through ‘off-the-book’ payments, then lying under oath to conceal his criminal activity,” stated IRS-Criminal Investigation Chief Richard Weber. “Tax crimes are not victimless crimes and Grimm’s actions harmed the very citizens he was elected to serve. We expect all taxpayers to follow the law—whether you are a business owner, individual, or elected official—we all must play by the same rules.”
From 2007 through 2009, Grimm owned a health food restaurant in Manhattan called Healthalicious. Overseeing daily operations, Grimm underreported earnings, hired illegal immigrants, and often paid employees in cash to avoid scrutiny. Taking advantage of their illicit legal status, Grimm paid some of his employees as little as $4.60 an hour. By underreporting the restaurant’s payroll, Grimm also managed to lower the monthly workers’ compensation premium paid to the New York State Insurance Fund.
On December 1, 2011, two former Healthalicious deliverymen filed a lawsuit against Grimm and the restaurant. They asserted Grimm had paid them less than minimum wage, refused to pay them for working overtime, and usually paid them in cash in order to cheat taxes. In January 2012, the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board ordered Healthalicious to pay $88,000 for not carrying workers’ comp insurance.
While under oath in January 2013, Grimm provided false testimony claiming he had not underreported Healthalicious’ earnings or paid his employees in cash. During the deposition, Grimm also lied about no longer having access to his work email account.
“In addition to pleading guilty to causing the filing of a false tax return for his restaurant, Grimm has signed a statement admitting to the conduct underlying every charge filed against him,” stated Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “Michael Grimm has now publicly admitted that he hired unauthorized workers whom he paid ‘off-the-books’ in cash, took deliberate steps to obstruct the federal and state governments from collecting taxes he properly owed, cheated New York State out of workers’ compensation insurance premiums, caused numerous false business and personal tax returns to be filed for several years, and lied under oath to cover up his crimes. He will now be held to account for all of his actions that led to those charges.”
Grimm is scheduled to surrender on September 10. He has also been ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, and the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) in a total amount to be determined after sentencing.