After vowing to fight his criminal indictment “tooth and nail,” Rep. Michael Grimm of Staten Island has agreed to plead guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of tax evasion, the Daily News has learned.
Grimm’s admission of guilt will place his congressional career in danger, exactly seven weeks after he won reelection by an overwhelming margin.
Grimm was scheduled to enter the plea Tuesday before Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn Federal Court.
A Republican who served in the Marines and worked as an FBI agent, Grimm was charged in a 20-count federal indictment in April with hiding more than $1 million in sales and wages at an Upper East Side restaurant he co-owned, and with hiring undocumented immigrants.
He pleaded not guilty, and his trial was to begin in February.
Despite the indictment, Grimm trounced Democrat Domenic Recchia 55% to 42% on Nov. 4 to win a third term.
Recchia made the criminal case a central issue of his campaign, and at a debate on Oct. 17, Grimm was asked, “If found guilty, would you resign?”
“Certainly, if I was not able to serve, then of course I would step aside and there would be a special election,” he replied.
But if he can escape prison time, Grimm is expected to try to hold onto his seat, arguing he would still be “able to serve,” a source familiar with his thinking said.
Under federal law, Grimm faces up to three years behind bars on the tax evasion charge. As a first-time offender, however, he might not have to serve any time. That decision will be up to Chen when she sentences him sometime next year.
If Grimm is spared prison and refuses to resign, it would up to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to decide whether to force him to step down.