WASHINGTON, April 28 (UPI) -- New York Rep. Michael Grimm was slapped with a 20-count indictment Monday morning accusing him of underreporting wages and profits of his chain of Manhattan health-food restaurants.
A more than two-year investigation by the U.S. District Attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York into Healthalicious restaurants alleges the Republican freshman, 44, concealed about $1 million in gross receipts and hundreds of thousands of dollars in employee wages, paying cash and filing incorrect tax forms.
During the period in which Grimm oversaw Healthalicious' day-today operations, in order to increase the profitability of the restaurant, he engaged in schemes to fraudulently under-report the wages he paid his workers -- many of whom did not have legal status in the United States -- and fraudulently under-report the true amount of money the restaurant earned to both federal and New York State tax and insurance authorities," the indictment reads. "Specifically, Grimm paid a significant portion of Healthalicious' employees' wages in cash and did not report those cash wages to federal and state authorities, thereby lowering the restaurant's payroll tax costs".
Charges against Grimm include five counts each of mail fraud and wire fraud, three counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false and fraudulent tax returns, one count of conspiring to defraud the U.S., one count of impeding the IRS, a count of healthcare fraud, one count of obstructing an official proceeding, two counts of perjury, and one count of employing unauthorized workers.
“As a former F.B.I. agent, Rep. Grimm should understand the motto: fidelity, bravery and integrity,” George Venizelos, an F.B.I. assistant director, said in a statement. “Yet he broke our credo at nearly every turn. In this 20-count indictment, Rep. Grimm lived by a new motto: fraud, perjury and obstruction.”
Added U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn Lorretta Lynch: “Even after his return to public service, when called to account for his actions and questioned under oath, Grimm went for the cover-up, and lied about his role in his own business."
Grimm turned himself in to the FBI and was arrested Monday morning before the indictment was unsealed. The charges mostly deal with Grimm's activities from before he was elected to Congress in 2011, but he has also been charged with two counts of perjury in a statement given under oath in 2013, after he took his seat.