John Bullis: Former congressman gets prison time for tax evasion

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Former Congressman Michael Grimm, age 45, pleaded guilty in 2014 to felony tax evasion and July 17 he was sentenced to eight months in prison and he resigned from Congress. One of the charges was aiding in filing a false income tax return. The judge said the crimes also included exploiting immigrant laborers, including some who were paid only $4.60 per hour.

Grimm served two full terms in Congress. He was first elected in 2010 in the borough of Staten Island in New York City. He is a former Marine and was also a FBI agent before going to Congress.

In spite of his indictment on 20 federal charges, he won re-election in 2014 by a large majority of the vote. The House Ethics Committee was investigating charges he solicited large sums from donors, in violation of the campaign contribution limits.

It seems he pleaded guilty to one count and only resigned from Congress a week later.

Grimm signed a statement of facts that contained other admissions. He said he concealed more than $1 million in gross receipts from his Manhattan health food restaurant for years 2007 through 2010. He also admitted he committed perjury during a 2013 deposition. He did not pay the payroll taxes, income taxes and sales taxes that were really owed.

He told the U.S. District judge he had cut corners to keep his business afloat because he lacked the “bravery to fail.” The judge found his expressions of remorse “belated” and did not agree with his argument that he had already been punished enough by the losses of his congressional seat and his reputation, according to Reuters. The judge said, “Everyone falls from grace when they are caught committing a crime; some fall farther than others ...”

Grimm made headlines when he told a reporter, “I’ll break you in half ...” when the reporter asked about an ongoing probe of Grimm’s fundraising. Grimm called that case “a political witch hunt” and he publicly threatened to throw the TV news reporter off the balcony of the Capitol.

Diana Durand, Grimm’s former fundraiser, was also indicted. Durand was sentenced to three months in prison after she pleaded guilty to funneling illegal campaign contributions to Grimm’s campaign.

Grimm is scheduled to surrender and start his prison sentence Sept. 10.

Did you hear? “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” — Abe Lincoln.

John Bullis is a certified public accountant, personal financial specialist and certified senior adviser who has served Carson City for 45 years. He is founder emeritus of Bullis and Company CPAs.


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