NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The House Ethics Committee has decided to put a probe of U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), so the Department of Justice can proceed with its own investigation.
The Ethics Committee voted to form a subcommittee to investigate Grimm, but voted to defer action during the Justice Department probe, according to published reports.
Grimm was charged last month in a 20-count indictment on mail, wire and tax fraud. The charges stemmed from an ongoing investigation of his campaign fundraising.
EXTRA: Read The Full Indictment
The alleged fraud occurred from 2007 to 2010, when authorities said Grimm was one of the owners and the managing member of an Upper East fast-food restaurant called Healthalicious and oversaw the day-to-day operations of the restaurant.
Prosecutors said during that time, Grimm filed false state and federal tax returns to underreport more than $1 million in sales and wages by concealing gross receipts for cash purchases and paid workers hundreds of thousands of dollars off the books.
“Healthalicious was a small business, and it sold casual food, so many people used cash, and it was this cash that Michael Grimm exploited, making over $1 million simply disappear,” United States Attorney Loretta Lynch said last month. “Grimm took the cash from the register, used part of it to pay the workers off the books, never reporting it to the taxing authorities.”
Grimm was elected in 2010 and took office in 2011.
For two years, investigators had been examining his fundraising in the 2010 race and his involvement in the restaurant. The House Ethics Committee announced in November that Grimm was under investigation for possible campaign finance violations.
Grimm, who free on $400,000 bond, has vowed to stay in office and run for re-election in November. He has called the fraud allegations a “political witch hunt” designed to “assassinate my character and remove me from office.”
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