A Texas woman accused of using straw donors to illegally funnel $10,000 to the campaign of Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) is “engaged in plea negotiations” with federal prosecutors, according to court documents filed Friday.
The woman, Diana Durand, who has been described as a friend and fundraiser of Grimm’s, also had her first appearance in a Brooklyn court pushed back until Feb. 12.
Legal experts who spoke with the Staten Island Advance newspaper, which first reported the possible plea negotiations, were divided on the significance of the possible negotiations and schedule change. Some said they indicated Durand might be offering testimony against others involved in the alleged scheme while others described them as a routine procedural matter.
Attorney Joseph Sorrentino, who is not involved in the case, told the paper Durand’s delay was likely an indication prosecutors were giving her time to take care of affairs in Texas and “it would not indicate a particularly significant development in the case.” Another attorney, Mario Galluci, told the paper the fact documents indicate Durand has entered negotiations “says a lot.”
“She is actually contemplating admitting guilt to something,” he said. “They are looking for her to implicate Grimm. There is no doubt in my mind.”
Grimm was not accused of wrongdoing in the FBI complaint against Durand. The FBI is also investigating whether Grimm illegally raised money for his 2010 from the congregation of an influential rabbi. Grimm has denied those allegations.