JANUARY 07, 2015Two distinguished alums of Judicial Watch’s annual corrupt politicians list—both prominent Republicans considered to have bright political futures—have been convicted of crimes and will fade into private life in disgrace.
First we have former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, not long ago considered a serious White House Contender. Instead, the member of JW’s 2013 Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians list got convicted for public corruption. McDonnell exchanged expensive gifts and cash for political favors. Among the gifts were luxury vacations, an engraved Rolex watch, a $10,000 suede coat, and a lavish shopping spree at swanky New York City stores and a $15,000 wedding gift to Governor McDonnell’s daughter. The governor and his wife also billed Virginia taxpayers for things like dog vitamins, body wash, sunscreen, deodorant and their adult children’s dry cleaning and used state workers to run personal errands for their adult daughters.
In September a federal jury in Richmond convicted McDonnell and his wife Maureen of multiple counts of corruption. After deliberating for 17 hours, the jury found the former governor guilty on 11 corruption and fraud counts and his wife guilty on eight corruption counts and one count of obstruction of justice. This includes six counts of obtaining property, worth $138,804, under color of official right. The amount includes a $15,000 check for the McDonnell daughter’s wedding. This week the shamed politician got sentenced to two years in prison.
Next we have Michael Grimm, a United States Congressman from Staten Island New York who was a decorated Marine and FBI agent before getting elected. Last month Grimm, who appears on JW’s 2012 Most Corrupt Politicians list, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and this week he resigned from Congress under pressure. Back in April JW reported that Grimm was slapped with a 20-count federal indictment for hiding more than $1 million in profits from a restaurant that employed a large number of illegal immigrants.
Grimm, who is also a lawyer and an accountant, was an owner and managing member of an Upper East Side fast-food restaurant called Healthalicious. From 2007 to 2010 the one-time federal agent turned legislator oversaw the restaurant’s day-to-day operations and he filed false state and federal tax returns to conceal north of $1 million in sales and wages, according to the feds. He also paid cooks, cashiers and delivery persons, many of them in the U.S. illegally, hundreds of thousands of dollars off the books.
To increase the profitability of the restaurant, the indictment says, Grimm engaged in schemes to fraudulently under-report the wages he paid his workers and fraudulently under-report the true amount of money the restaurant earned to both federal and New York state tax and insurance authorities. Many of the workers did not have legal status in the United States, according to the federal complaint, and Grimm paid them in cash. This lowered the restaurant’s payroll tax costs. The assistant director in charge of New York’s FBI office said this about Grimm: “As a former FBI agent, Representative Grimm should understand the motto fidelity, bravery, and integrity. Yet he broke our credo at nearly every turn. In this 20-count indictment, Representative Grimm honored a new motto: fraud, perjury, and obstruction.”
Grimm’s case has received quite a bit of regional media coverage and local newspapers called for his resignation from Congress long before he felt the heat and stepped down. New Yorker Magazine published a particularly entertaining story that describes the saga like this; Grimm’s pugnacious career in government service ended with a whimper. It also recalls some of the former congressman’s finest moments in office such as his on-camera threat to throw a New York television reporter off the capitol rotunda balcony for asking about a Justice Department investigation into his shady fundraising. Grimm was also caught on tape telling the reporter “I’ll break you in half.” Here’s the video.
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