Following more than two years of investigation, federal prosecutors in New York on Monday unsealed their case against Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY). In a lengthy indictment, the government charged the second-term Staten Island congressman with wire and mail fraud, helping prepare false tax returns, perjury, and over a dozen other counts.
Here’s a quick guide to the case.
1. The Case Has Nothing To Do With Campaign Finance
The charges in the case stem from Grimm’s time running a restaurant called Healthalicious on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Grimm, a former FBI agent who left the bureau in 2006, oversaw the day-to-day operations of Healthalicious from 2007 to 2010, according to prosecutors. During that time, prosecutors say, Grimm “engaged in schemes to fraudulently under-report the wages he paid his workers … and fraudulently under-report the true amount of money the restaurant earned to both federal and New York State tax and insurance authorities.” All told, Grimm is accused of concealing over $1 million in gross receipts, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars of employees’ wages.
But here’s what the case isn’t about: campaign finance issues. That came as something of a surprise. The investigation into Grimm reportedly began by looking at the Republican’s political fundraising, and two people connected to Grimm’s fundraising have attracted the attention of federal prosecutors: Donna Durand, who has been accused of illegally funneling $10,000 to Grimm’s campaign coffers, and Ofer Biton, a key fundraiser, who has pleaded guilty to filing false documents on an investor visa application. None of this is mentioned in the Grimm indictment.
2. Grimm Allegedly Committed Perjury While A Member Of Congress
According to the indictment, Grimm lied under oath during a civil deposition that took place in January 2013. The deposition was part of a lawsuit brought by two former Healthalicious employees, and Grimm allegedly lied about his role running the restaurant.
3. Grimm Allegedly Employed Undocumented Immigrants
Perhaps the most unexpected part of the case concerns the immigration status of Healthalicious employees hired by Grimm. Prosecutors say that Grimm “knowingly and intentionally” hired undocumented workers “and did engage in a pattern and practice of such hiring and continued employment.”
As The Huffington Post reported Monday, Grimm has been among the few House Republicans who have vocally supported immigration reform allowing undocumented immigrants to become legal residents. Grimm has also supported E-Verify, a system that allows business to check if potential employees are eligible to work in the U.S.