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Prosecutors To File Charges Against Rep. Michael Grimm For Alleged Campaign Finance Violations

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The attorney for Rep. Michael Grimm said Friday he expects his client will be indicted for alleged campaign finance violations.

The indictment has been filed and sealed and will be opened Monday by a judge, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported. At that time, all the details of the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigation will be revealed.

As a congressman, Grimm gets a notice of indictment as a courtesy, so he can turn himself in rather than be arrested and handcuffed like other suspects, Kramer reported.

“After more than two years of investigation plagued by malicious leaks, violations of grand jury secrecy, and strong-arm tactics, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has disclosed its intent to file criminal charges against Congressman Grimm. We are disappointed by the government’s decision, but hardly surprised,” attorney William McGinley said earlier Friday. “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. When the dust settles, he will be vindicated. Until then, he will continue to serve his constituents with the same dedication and tenacity that has characterized his lifetime of public service as a Member of Congress, Marine Corps combat veteran, and decorated FBI Special Agent.”

The House Ethics Committee announced in 2012 that Grimm was under investigation for possible campaign finance violations. That committee said it would defer its inquiry because of a separate Department of Justice investigation.

Grimm, a former FBI agent, had been under investigation for possible campaign finance violations by soliciting and accepting prohibited contributions. That may have led to false information being included in campaign finance reports, the committee said.

Part of the investigation stems from whether Grimm improperly sought help from a foreign national, by soliciting contributions in exchange for help in getting the person a green card, according to a committee statement.

The independent House Office of Congressional Ethics had recommended dismissal of the case because it could not establish with sufficient certainty that a violation occurred after Grimm became a congressman.

Grimm, whose district covers Brooklyn and Staten Island, was first elected in 2010 with 51 percent of the vote.

It has been previously reported that the FBI was probing money donated to Grimm’s 2010 campaign by followers of an Israeli rabbi. Agents previously arrested Israeli businessman Ofer Biton, who has links to the adult entertainment industry, on immigration fraud charges.

Federal officials said Biton had helped Grimm raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto’s followers in New York. Biton was formerly a top aide to Pinto and in 2010 acted as a liaison between Grimm and potential donors in the congregation.

Some donors have said they broke campaign finance law by donating more money than allowed, or by funneling donations from foreigners who aren’t legally allowed to give to U.S. candidates.

Grimm repeatedly has denied knowledge of any improper donations or any other illegal activity.

The 44-year-old was planning to run for a third term this fall, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.

The congressman has been in the headlines already this year after he was caught on tape threatening to throw a reporter over a balcony on Capitol Hill, CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported.

While his attorney said Rep. Grimm will stay in office, residents who spoke with 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten felt that if he is convicted, then he should resign.

“If he’s being charged with something and its been proven, then I would think he has no choice to but resign,” said one man.

Ralph said Grimm should do the right thing, and just leave office now.

“I think there’s way too much corruption in government anyway. (So you think he should resign?) Absolutely.”

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