Brooklyn’s “I’ll Throw You Off This Fucking Balcony” Congressmember Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Charges

Michael Grimm leaving federal court in Brooklyn after being indicted

Getty, via The Observer

New York City’s only Republican member of Congress has pleaded not guilty to 20 counts of tax fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, and other charges, CBS reports. Michael Grimm, who represents Staten Island and a chunk of Brooklyn, has been under federal investigation for years, particularly for his campaign finances: two people associated with the congressmember’s fundraising have been indicted. But all the charges filed Monday were related to an Upper East Side restaurant, Healthalicious, that the former Marine and FBI agent owned and managed from 2007 to 2010. “During that time, Grimm filed false state and federal tax returns to underreport over $1 million in sales and wages by concealing gross receipts for cash purchases and paid workers hundreds of thousands of dollars off the books,” CBS reports. Grimm joined Congress in 2011. 

Since then, he’s developed a bad reputation; Bill Maher chose him as one of two congressmembers he would devote his influence and resources to trying to defeat in November. Earlier this year, Grimm made international headlines when he threatened on camera a NY1 reporter who asked him about the investigations into his fundraising. “I’ll throw you off this fucking balcony,” Grimm told the reporter. “I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.” When the congressmember tried to pass it off as an isolated incident, several other reporters came forward and shared stories in which Grimm became aggressive and out-of-line when they dared ask him questions. Grimm also appeared in a constituent bar in Brooklyn a few months before that and behaved boorishly, including disappearing into the restroom with a woman for several minutes.

When we broke that story, Grimm blamed everyone but himself: the bar was a Democrat bar, he said, so what else could you expect? (The bar has no political affiliation. It’s a fucking bar.) Every time Grimm gets caught misbehaving, he blames it on the Democrats—and this time is no exception. “We are disappointed by the government’s decision, but hardly surprised,” Grimm’s lawyer said, according to the New York Observer. “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.”

The US attorney and FBI officials were unsparing in their criticisms. “Grimm made the choice to go from upholding the laws to breaking it,” the government’s prosecutor said in a statement, according to the Observer. “In so doing he turned his back on every oath he had ever taken.” “As a former FBI agent, Representative Grimm should understand the motto: fidelity, bravery, and integrity,” the FBI assistant director-in-charge said. “Yet he broke our credo at nearly every turn. In this 20-count indictment, Representative Grimm lived by a new motto: fraud, perjury, and obstruction.”

Grimm surrendered to authorities this morning, and later appeared in court, where he pleaded not guilty. He’s out on $400,000 bond, after surrendering his passport and any firearms, and back to representing his district. “A House member who has been indicted does not lose any rights or privileges under federal law or the chamber’s rules,” CBS reports.

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