CNN: NY Rep. Michael Grimm Facing Criminal Charges

Friday, 25 Apr 2014 06:52 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Rep. Michael Grimm is expected to face criminal charges as soon as next week in connection with his business dealings and stemming from a FBI probe into whether he accepted illegal donations, including large amounts of cash from foreigners, in his first race for Congress in 2010.

According to a report on CNN's "The Lead," reporter Evan Perez told host Jake Tapper on Friday that the FBI had been investigating Grimm for two years, and charges are coming soon against New York's only Republican in Washington.

Grimm's attorney, William McGinley, confirmed Friday that federal prosecutors plan to file charges, Fox News reports, and said that while the decision is disappointing, it's not surprising.

Story continues below video.

"From the beginning, the government has pursued a politically driven vendetta against Congressman Grimm and not an independent search for the truth," said McGinley, who noted Grimm "asserts his innocence of any wrongdoing" and "will be vindicated."

Grimm, McGinley said in a statement to Fox, "will continue to serve his constituents with the same dedication and tenacity that has characterized his lifetime of public service as a member of Congress, Marine Corps combat veteran, and decorated FBI special agent."

The stress of the investigation led to a much-publicized encounter with NY1 reporter Michael Scotto in January. After Scotto asked Grimm about possible charges, the lawmaker told him, "You're not a man" and "I could break you in half," before threatening to throw him over the balcony of the Capitol Building Rotunda. 

Scotto declined to press charges against Grimm, and the lawmaker later apologized to him for the incident.

Perez said the charges are linked to the indictment of his fundraiser and former girlfriend Diana Durand of Houston, who has been charged with trying to evade federal limits on campaign donations.

Durand is accused of reimbursing two co-workers for donations to someone the FBI complaint refers to as "Congressman A" — and whom The New York Times identifies as Grimm.

The complaint against her claims that she already gave the legal limit of $4,800 to Grimm, but wrote both of the co-workers by email, saying, "I still have to make the deposit but I can write you both a check, or I can get your account numbers and do a transfer, whatever works for you."

Another investigation involving Israeli Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, who has congregations in Israel and Manhattan and who has agreed to testify for the FBI, could prove even more devastating.

Ofer Biton, a former top aide to Pinto, is alleged to have raised more than $500,000 for Grimm in 2010 from wealthy members of the rabbi's congregation, including amounts of cash over the legal limit, as well as donations from foreigners, which is illegal in federal races.

Pinto has reportedly leveled his own charges against Grimm, reports the Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva. The rabbi claims Grimm's associates attempted to blackmail him if he did not encourage his followers to donate to his campaign.

Grimm, a military veteran and former FBI agent who is seeking re-election, has denied any knowledge or involvement in any of the financial schemes.

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