Convicted of felony tax evasion, GOP Congressman refuses to resign

New York Rep. Michael Grimm pled guilty to tax evasion in a federal court yesterday as calls for his resignation from both parties mounted.

But Grimm remained defiant, saying as long as he could serve he wouldn't step down.

The Hill:

Grimm apologized and admitted to aiding and assisting in the preparation of fraudulent tax returns, part of a 20-count indictment federal prosecutors brought against him in April. But outside the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, Grimm was defiant and said he had no plans to step down.

"As long as I'm able to serve, I'm going to serve," Grimm told reporters, according to CNN.

The prosecution of Grimm was led by Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York who is also President Obama’s nominee for attorney general.

Lynch said that, aside from the guilty plea, Grimm has also signed a statement “admitting to the conduct underlying every charge filed against him.”

“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,” Lynch said in a statement.

At a hearing next year, U.S. District Court Judge Pamela K. Chen could sentence the combative Staten Island congressman to several years in prison. But some legal experts have said he could avoid jail time, given that he has no criminal history and previously served in the FBI and Marines.

So far, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his leadership team haven’t weighed in about whether Grimm should go, giving him a bit of breathing room over the holidays to decide on his own terms.

"We won't have any announcements until the Speaker discusses the matter with Mr. Grimm,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in an email.

Grimm cruised to a third term in November despite the ethical cloud hovering over him during the campaign. But Grimm himself had vowed during an October debate that he would resign if he was found guilty at a trial that had been set for February before he struck a plea deal.

Boehner has had near-zero tolerance for lawbreakers in his caucus and it wouldn't be surprising if he put a lot of pressure on Grimm to resign even if he doesn't get jail time. The calls for his resignation will only grow over the coming days and it will be an open question whether he will be able to serve effectively.

If he resigns, Governor Cuomo will be forced to schedule a special election. Grimm could have saved everyone time and money if he had refused to run in the first place.

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