Former Rep. Michael Grimm sentenced to eight months in prison for tax fraud

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Friday, July 17, 2015

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Former Rep. Michael Grimm was sentenced Friday to eight months in prison for federal tax evasion.

He will self-surrender to federal prison on Sept. 10.

Grimm appealed to U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen for no jail time during a two hour sentencing, admitting that "a Marine is taught not to fail."

But Judge Chen told him, "Your moral compass, Mr. Grimm, needs some reorientation."

She added that Grimm, who served in the Marines and was an FBI agent, demeaned both "with his lack of morals and unscrupulous actions."

"Everyone falls from grace when they are caught committing crimes. Some fall farther than others," she told Grimm.

He faced up to three years in prison, but his lawyers argued he should only serve probation.

The former Staten Island representative resigned in January, after pleading guilty.

Prosecutors said the tax fraud began in 2007 after Grimm retired from the FBI and began investing in a Manhattan eatery called Healthalicious. An indictment accused him of underreporting more than $1 million in wages and receipts to evade payroll, income and sales taxes, in part by paying immigrant workers, some of them in the country illegally, in cash.

Grimm, 45, won re-election in November while fighting the charges but later resigned.

In court papers asking for a sentence of probation, defense lawyers called Grimm's offense "an aberration in an otherwise remarkable life in selfless service of his country," including a stint in the Marine Corps. They also argued that losing his career in Congress was punishment enough.

Grimm "is tremendously remorseful over his offense," they wrote. "He understands that his tax violation is not something to be taken lightly, and he is anguished over his wrongdoing and will live with the shame of it the rest of his life."

Prosecutors countered by telling the judge that Grimm's record of "falsely minimizing his criminal conduct and impugning anyone who questions him is indicative of an individual who has not come to terms with his own crimes."

The government papers cited a news conference last year outside the courthouse where Grimm called the case "a political witch hunt." The papers also refer to an episode in which Grimm threatened to throw a local cable TV news reporter off the balcony of the capitol for asking about the campaign financing inquiry.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)