In a statement released by attorney McGinley, he said “We are disappointed by the government’s decision, but hardly surprised. From the beginning, the government has pursued a politically driven vendetta against Congressman Grimm and not an independent search for the truth. Congressman Grimm asserts his innocence of any wrongdoing.”
Grimm has been under investigation by federal authorities for alleged campaign finance violations. The federal charges against Grimm are expected to include mail and wire fraud, said a source familiar with the case. The timing of the Grimm indictment couldn’t be worse for Republicans. The filing deadline for that race has closed, so GOP leadership will be stuck with him on the ballot come Election Day.
The investigation into Grimm has been on going for almost two years now. McGinley said the investigation has been plagued by malicious leaks, violations of grand jury secrecy, and strong-arm tactics, He added: “When the dust settles, Michael Grimm will be completely vindicated. Until then, he 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.”
Lynch, who was appointed to her office by President Barack Obama in May 2010, oversees federal cases in Brooklyn, Queens, eastern Long Island and Grimm’s home district of Staten Island. The Justice Department has been scrutinizing Grimm’s relationship with Ofer Biton, an Israeli citizen who pleaded guilty last year to a visa violation. Biton was able to help Grimm raise more than $500,000 from Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto’s followers, including allegedly improper donations. “This case is politically motivated,” the lawyer, John Meringolo, said at the bail hearing in a Brooklyn federal court back in 2012 at the time of the hearing for his client, Biton.
Melanie Sloan of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said “Grimm should resign immediately if and when he’s indicted.” She went on to add that Grimm has committed one reprehensible act after another since he came to Washington
The FBI investigation has focused on Grimm and several close associates, including his former girlfriend, Diana Durand, who was arrested in January. A three-count indictment against Durand was unsealed Friday, charging her with making illegal contributions, making contributions in the name of someone else and making false statements to the FBI, according to court documents.
Stuart Kaplan attorney for Diana Durand said “Durand had a long-distance and strong friendship with Grimm and didn’t intend to violate campaign finance laws when she organized and reimbursed donations beyond campaign-finance limits. He said she was “not a sophisticated person” and had not been involved in campaign finance, and that any errors she made were because “she was trying to help someone she cared about.”
The House Ethics Committee launched a formal inquiry into Grimm’s campaign finance activities in 2012 but announced at the time that it would defer to the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation.
The New York Times newspaper says the company Grimm formed to run the Healthalicious restaurant is also linked to Ofer Biton. The Republican’s campaign was reportedly more than $450,000 in debt this March. The Federal investigation has focused on allegations that Grimm systematically raised illegal contributions.
Campaign contributions were predominantly from followers of well known Rabbi, Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto. The legal limit of $4800 by check or $100 if donating cash was exceeded multiple times. Followers of Pinto have stated in interviews that they gave $5000 in cash as well as a check for $25,000. They stated that Grimm had given instructions for those who were unable to give money because of legal immigrant status in the U.S. should give money to a legal resident who could then in turn make the political donation.
Grimm, 44, was first elected to Congress in 2010 and is a former U.S. Marine and FBI agent. He made himself somewhat of a pariah when he threatened to throw a reporter from the balcony in the Capitol building when asked some bothersome questions after the Presidential “State of the Union” address.