Monday wasn’t a good day for Michael Grimm, who was indicted on 20 separate charges relating to his Manhattan restaurant and accused by federal prosecutors of evading the IRS and making $1 million just vanish.
Grimm, who’s a former FBI agent, pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on $400,000 bond later in the day. Part of the conditions of his release is that he’s not allowed to leave the continental Unites States and he must also surrender his passport by May 11.
Grimm is calling the charges a “political witch hunt,” and denies any wrongdoing whatsoever.
“We’re going to fight tooth and nail until I am fully exonerated,” he said as he walked out of the courthouse surrounded by his attorneys.
However U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch had some strong words for him.
“Michael Grimm made the choice to go from upholding the law to breaking it,” she said while detailing the charges against him. “And in doing so, he turned his back on every oath he had ever taken.”
Grimm’s attorneys refused to discuss the charges with the press, however Grimm said that he wasn’t going to let the charges against him stop him from running for reelection in the fall.
He maintains that the entire case is a “vendetta” against him that’s only designed to get him out of office.
The indictment against Grimm contained mail and wire fraud charges as well as charges pertaining to his federal tax returns. The heart of it all is the allegations that he engaged in a “scheme” to hide sales and wages at his restaurant, Healthalicious. He ran the business from 2007 until 2010 when he won his congressional seat.
According to prosecutors, Grimm who’s a Marine Corps veteran, took cash from the registers of his establishment and used it to pay workers off the books while under reporting his revenues, “making over a million dollars simply disappear.”
In addition to the fraud charges, Grimm is accused of hiring illegal aliens to work at his restaurant. He was also reportedly fined $88,000 for not providing workers compensation insurance to his employees. His workers also accused him of ducking state wage laws by paying them in cash so he didn’t have to pay NYS taxes or follow employment laws.
The latest charges are separate from a House Ethic Committee investigation into possible campaign finance violations, which the committee said they will be suspending their inquiry pending the outcome of the Justice Department investigation.