Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., is acting in the best interests of his constituents by resigning. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., who won a third term while under indictment, has announced he is stepping down following his guilty plea to tax evasion.
During the months Grimm was under indictment and after entering his guilty plea last week, he had resisted calls to step down, but announced his resignation in a statement late Monday.
"After much thought and prayer, I have made the very difficult decision to step down from Congress effective January 5th, 2015," Grimm said. "This decision is made with a heavy heart, as I have enjoyed a very special relationship and closeness with my constituents, whom I care about deeply."
Grimm, 44, a Marine veteran and former FBI agent, was elected to a New York City district spanning Staten Island and Brooklyn in 2010. He won an easy victory in November.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, can call a special election to replace Grimm. President Obama carried the district with 52 percent of the vote in 2012 so the Democrats have a shot at picking up the seat.
House Speaker John Boehner praised Grimm's decision. A congressional source told CNN Grimm spoke to Boehner before making the announcement.
"I know it was made with the best interests of his constituents and the institution in mind, and I appreciate his years of service in the House," Boehner said in a statement Tuesday.
Grimm's indictment and guilty plea created problems for Boehner. A felony conviction is not a legal bar to congressional service.
The charges against Grimm involved a health food restaurant he owned in Manhattan before he was elected to Congress. He faces up to three years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of tax fraud.
In January, Grimm threatened to throw a reporter off the balcony for asking him about his legal problems following Obama's State of the Union speech.