The sentencing hearing for one-time U.S. Representative Michael Grimm from Staten Island is scheduled for July 2 before federal judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn, NY as reported by John M. Annese for the Staten Island Advance: "Grimm faces a maximum three years in prison after pleading guilty in December to federal tax fraud," and "federal prosecutors have estimated that he could face between 24 to 30 months in prison, based on sentencing guidelines."
The tax conviction was connected to his operation of New York eatery Healthalicious before entering Congress in 2011. After leaving the FBI in 2006 Grimm opened Healthalicious with partner Bennett Orfaly, and federal prosecutors allege that Orfaly has personal ties to reputed Gambino capo Anthony "Fat Tony" Morelli who "is serving a 20-year prison sentence for racketeering and extortion in an elaborate tax fraud" as reported by Alison Leigh Cowan for The New York Times:
"Mr. Orfaly maintains constant contact" with Mr. Morelli in prison, [Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony] Capozzolo told the court, noting that Mr. Orfaly "has visited him and engaged in telephone conversations."
Although Grimm claims he sold his interest in Healthalicious before entering Congress and was unaware of Orfaly's ties to Morelli, in a recently-unsealed affidavit an FBI agent alleges Grimm "received $100,000 in under-the-table payments from a secret ownership stake he maintained in [the] health eatery after his election to Congress" as reported by the Daily News.
Grimm, a former U.S. Marine and FBI agent who resigned his House seat after the conviction, should get the maximum sentence.
During his re-election campaign last fall Grimm repeatedly claimed his innocence to voters, and attacked the federal criminal investigations as a political witch hunt. In the end Grimm not only was guilty of an underlying crime but committed the graver sins of attacking the basic integrity of the FBI and manipulating the good will of his constituents. A two-bit tax cheat cannot bring down the nation but as a former agent and sitting politician Michael Grimm cynically attempted to undermine both law enforcement and the electoral process with baseless attacks and outright lies, and if the good people lose faith in their public institutions then this great nation will collapse.
And then there was the personal destruction left in Grimm's wake.
Last March Grimm's former gal pal Diana Durand was sentenced to three months in prison for using straw donors to funnel campaign contributions in excess of the individual limit to his campaign as then reported by Selim Algar for the New York Post.
Former FBI agent Jack Garcia, perhaps best known for his undercover infiltration of the Gambino family as Jack Falcone, supported Grimm's 2010 Congressional bid, and after word leaked in 2012 that the FBI was investigating Grimm over his business dealings and fundraising activities Garcia went on record for his one-time colleague as then reported by The New York Times: "Mr. Garcia said Mr. Grimm . . . would 'never in a million years' commit an impropriety." Garcia also characterized Grimm as "by-the-book Marine" and the allegations amounted to "character assassination" as reported by Tom Wrobleski for The Staten Island Advance: "'there was never a gray area with Michael,' Garcia told the Advance." Apparently, Garcia turned out to be quite wrong. In short, Grimm made Garcia look like a fool.
And Grimm's apparent betrayal of Garcia's trust may have repercussions beyond their own relationship. After Jack Garcia retired from an exemplary career with the FBI he continued performing consulting work for the Bureau, and even testified as a government witness at the 2012 and 2013 trials targeting the Philadelphia Mafia: "he [Garcia] was the professor, the expert with real-life experience enlisted to provide jurors an inside look at La Cosa Nostra and to interpret its members' conversations at secretly recorded gatherings." However, query whether federal prosecutors ever can use Jack Garcia again as an expert witness before the jury. Garcia's personal integrity obviously is beyond reproach but presumably defense lawyers nevertheless would cross-examine him over his relationship with Grimm if only in an attempt to show how even a street-wise G-man sometimes can seemingly misjudge a situation. Jack Garcia was a government asset who effectively may have been taken out not by the mob but by Michael Grimm.
At his sentencing hearing Grimm may play up his former stints as a Marine and an agent in a bid for leniency but in the end he was a traitor who attacked his country and betrayed his friends, and the damage is real.
06/10/15 Update: Grimm's sentencing hearing has been adjourned to July 17 as reported by The Staten Island Advance.
06/21/15 Update: The government wants between 24 and 30 months of prison time for Michael Grimm as reported by John M. Annese for The Staten Island Advance. In court-filed sentencing papers federal prosecutors essentially argue that Grimm is a pathological liar who is incapable of accepting responsibility for his crime:
The defendant chose to run his business fraudulently from its inception. His business practices were designed to hide the restaurant's income and his subsequent and repeated lies were designed to conceal the fraud from federal and New York State authorities. Further, when confronted, the defendant's first and consistent instinct has been to lie. He lied under oath in the Civil Action. When he was indicted, he feigned indignation at being the target of an improper government investigation. (See Exhibit I at 4 (describing the government's investigation as a "vendetta" and a "witch hunt")). Even his statements to the Probation Department in advance of sentencing, which sought to diminish his criminal conduct and place the responsibility for his crimes on others (see supra, pp. 6 n.2 and 8 n.4), illustrate that he has failed to fully come to terms with his criminal conduct.
06/23/15 Update: The defense team wants no jail time for Michael Grimm because according to letters seeking leniency the tax cheat is nice to friends and family including taking care of his political mentor Guy Molinari as reported by John M. Annese for The Staten Island Advance:
Molinari, who also served as Staten Island's congressional representative, wrote Grimm has "become a son to me" and often spends Fridays and Saturdays with him watching boxing matches. "As someone who lives in constant pain, often unbearable, I desperately rely on Michael's routine visits when he changes my medicine patches that stick to both arms and forces me to eat when I just don't have the strength," Molinari wrote.
It's enough to make one vomit.
Of course, those who weren't friends and family weren't always treated so nicely by the bullying Grimm who perhaps is best known for his January 2014 meltdown in the Capitol Building after the President's State of the Union address when he threatened to throw NY1 reporter Michael Scotto "off this f-----g balcony" for inquiring about the criminal investigation into the Congressman's fundraising as then reported by the Daily News:
When Scotto replied, "why, why it's a valid question," Grimm said: "No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy," according to the NY1 transcript.
Further reading that may be of interest: