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Michael Grimm Sentenced to 8 Months in Jail for Tax Fraud

By Nicholas Rizzi | July 17, 2015 12:29pm | Updated on July 20, 2015 8:59am
 Former congressman Michael Grimm was sentenced to eight months in prison for tax fraud.
Former congressman Michael Grimm was sentenced to eight months in prison for tax fraud.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Former congressman Michael Grimm was sentenced to eight months in jail and a year's probation for his tax fraud conviction, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

Despite Grimm trying to paint himself in court as a dedicated servant to the country who had a lapse in judgment, Judge Pamela Chen ruled that Grimm would serve jail time for underreporting profits from an Upper East Side eatery he co-owned and have 200 hours of community service afterwards.

Chen chided Grimm for belatedly apologizing for his crime only at the hearing and for characterizing tax fraud as a minor crime.

"Your moral compass, Mr. Grimm, needs some reorientation," Chen said during the sentencing. "He was actively perpetrating fraud on a regular or weekly basis."

During the proceeding, Grimm said that he lied about his taxes because he wanted to keep the business afloat and he was taught in the Marines that failure is not an option.

"I was ashamed to fail," Grimm said. 

"You're not going to have a restaurant in Manhattan with delivery boys and not pay them off the books. The truth is I should've closed."

Grimm and his lawyers also argued that losing his job in Congress, potentially being disbarred in Manhattan and Connecticut, being labeled a felony and his lack of job opportunities were punishment enough.

Chen said that Grimm has been pulling in between $8,000 to $10,000 a month on consulting jobs since he pleaded guilty and called the fall out "collateral" damage, not punishment.

"Everyone falls from grace when they get caught committing a crime," Chen said. "Some fall harder than others."

Chen also ruled that Grimm would have to pay back restitution for the taxes he didn't pay. His prison sentence will start September 10.

In the hearing, Grimm's lawyer Daniel Rashbaum cited Grimm's record in the military, his work in Congress and the FBI and the fact it was a common crime, not particularly complicated, as reasons he should not receive any jail time.

Chen said that just because it's common doesn't excuse Grimm, especially given his work in the FBI which was primarily focused on white collar crimes.

"That this type of crime is common does not make it any less serious in my mind," she said. "He, of all people, knew better."

In December, Grimm pleaded guilty to one count of tax fraud for underreporting profits and paying workers off the books at Healthalicious.

After his guilty plea, Grimm vowed to stay in Congress as long he was able to, but resigned from his post a month later, which set off a special election for his seat that was eventually won by former District Attorney Dan Donovan.

The fact that Grimm lied under oath about paying workers off the books in a lawsuit in 2013 weighed into Chen's sentencing decision, especially since he was running for Congress at the time.

Chen also read a letter sent to her by a Staten Islander who said Grimm "took our voice away with his conviction" in court.