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Rep. Michael Grimm To Face Criminal Charges, Lawyer Says

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), seen here last year, is expected to be indicted on criminal charges. His lawyer says Grimm has done nothing wrong.
Alex Wong
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Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), seen here last year, is expected to be indicted on criminal charges. His lawyer says Grimm has done nothing wrong.

Rep. Michael Grimm's lawyer says he expects the New York Republican will be indicted on criminal charges. The exact charges haven't been announced. The Staten Island lawmaker and former FBI agent, who was first elected to Congress in 2010, has been under investigation for campaign finance and fraud.

Grimm's attorney says his client is innocent and is the target of a vendetta on the part of federal authorities that has included "malicious leaks, violations of grand jury secrecy, and strong-arm tactics."

An investigation into Grimm's campaign finance practices is ongoing; the pending charges could stem from his role in owning a health food restaurant in Manhattan, reports The New York Times. The newspaper says the company Grimm formed to run the Healthalicious restaurant is also linked to Ofer Biton, a fundraiser who admitted to visa fraud in a plea deal last summer.

NPR's Peter Overby reports for our Newscast unit:

"Grimm has been under federal investigation for more than two years on allegations that he systematically raised illegal contributions.

"After word leaked that an indictment was near, defense attorney William McGinley issued a statement. He called the case 'a politically driven vendetta and not an independent search for the truth.'

"The fundraising allegations stem from Grimm's first run for Congress in 2010. A friend of his was arrested in January on charges that she funneled money to his campaign through straw donors.

"Also in January, Grimm made headlines for threatening a reporter on Capitol Hill with bodily harm. He quickly apologized."

That reporter was from NY1 TV, which today notes that "the Republican's campaign was reportedly more than $450,000 in debt this March."

The friend of Grimm's who was arrested in January is Diana Durand of Houston, who was indicted Friday on charges that include campaign finance violations and making false statements to the FBI, The Associated Press reports.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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