NEW YORK—A New York congressman who pleaded guilty to tax evasion just days ago has announced he would resign from office next week because he would not be able to give the job his full attention anymore.
Republican Rep. Michael Grimm issued a statement late Monday saying he will resign effective Jan. 5.
“The events which led to this day did not break my spirit, nor the will of the voters,” he said. “However, I do not believe that I can continue to be 100 percent effective in the next Congress, and therefore, out of respect for the office and the people I so proudly represent, it is time for me to start the next chapter of my life.”
Grimm’s guilty plea last week to aiding in the filing of a false tax return came after he was re-elected to his Staten Island seat in November, even though he was under indictment.
Following the plea, Grimm said he would stay in Congress as long as he could.
Grimm reportedly talked with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) before deciding to step down. Boehner has forced other lawmakers to resign for lesser offenses.
Boehner has not discussed Grimm’s future publicly. Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in an email, “We do not discuss private conversations the speaker has with members.”
The new Congress is scheduled to open Jan. 6, and Grimm’s presence would have been a distraction for Republicans who will control both the House and the Senate.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democratic National Committee had called on Grimm to resign.
A former Marine and FBI agent with support from former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Grimm was elected to Congress in 2010, scoring an upset win over first-term Democratic Rep. Michael McMahon.
According to an indictment, the tax fraud began in 2007 after Grimm retired from the FBI and began investing in a small Manhattan restaurant called Healthalicious.
The indictment accused him of underreporting more than $1 million in wages and receipts to evade payroll, income, and sales taxes, partly by paying immigrant workers, some of them in the country illegally, in cash.
Sentencing was scheduled for June 8. Prosecutors said a range of 24 to 30 months in prison would be appropriate, while the defense estimated the appropriate sentence as between 12 and 18 months.
After his court appearance, Grimm said he planned to stay in Congress. “As long as I’m able to serve, I’m going to serve,” he said.
He also apologized for his actions. “I should not have done it and I am truly sorry for it,” he said.
But in his statement Monday, Grimm said he made his “very difficult decision … with a heavy heart” after much thought and prayer.
From The Associated Press