Embattled New York Rep. Michael Grimm pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony tax evasion, but he said he will “absolutely not” resign from Congress.
The Staten Island Republican admitted his guilt before Brooklyn Federal Court Pamela Chen, exactly seven weeks after he won re-election to a third term.
He pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false income tax return in 2009 that underreported sales and wages at the Manhattan health-food restaurant he owned and managed before entering Congress in January 2011.
The judge set sentencing for June 8.
During the campaign, Grimm said he would step down if he no longer was “able to serve” – leaving the impression that he would quit Congress if convicted.
But after the hearing on Tuesday, Grimm struck a note of defiance, saying there is nothing to prevent him from fulfilling his obligations as a congressman.
“As I said before, as long as I am able to serve, I will serve,” he said.
“Everything we’re talking about here happened before I was in Congress and for the past four years I’ve been a very effective, strong member of Congress that has served the people of Staten Island very well, and I think the proof of that is the will of the people. Ultimately the will of the people will speak,” he said.
He declined to comment on any discussions he has had with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) about his future in Congress.
Grimm faces anywhere from probation to three years in prison for the charge. As a first-time offender, he is hoping to avoid jail, a scenario that would allow him, in theory, to still serve.
But as a result of his guilty plea, he will face enormous pressure to quit, despite his intention to try to stick it out. House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement on Tuesday demanding that Grimm resign. Other Democrats followed suit.
A final decision will be up to House Republicans, who control the chamber, and Boehner. If Grimm tries to hold on, the House could vote to expel him.
Grimm was charged with 20 criminal counts in the federal indictment that was handed down in April.
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