December 30, 2014 / 3:27 AM / 4 years ago

Representative Grimm to step down following guilty plea

(Reuters) - U.S. Representative Michael Grimm of New York, who pleaded guilty last week to a federal felony tax charge, will resign his seat on Jan. 5 because he does not feel he can be completely effective in Congress, he said on Monday.

U.S. Representative Michael Grimm of New York is photographed ahead of a news conference following his guilty plea at the Brooklyn federal court in New York December 23, 2014. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

“After much thought and prayer, I have made the very difficult decision to step down from Congress effective January 5th, 2015,” Grimm said in a statement provided by a spokesman.

“The events which led to this day did not break my spirit, nor the will of the voters. However, I do not believe that I can continue to be 100 (percent) effective in the next Congress.”

Grimm, a Republican, pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court on Dec. 23 to aiding the preparation of a false tax return in connection with a health food restaurant, Healthalicious, that he co-owned before his political career.

Grimm had said earlier he would not resign from Congress: “As long as I’m able to serve, I’m going to.”

As part of a plea deal, Grimm also signed a statement of facts, admitting to concealing over $900,000 in gross receipts from 2007 to 2010 and lying during a 2013 deposition.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner had not publicly called for Grimm’s resignation, but House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi last week said the Republican leadership must “must insist that Congressman Grimm resign immediately.”

The 44-year-old former Marine and FBI agent easily won a third term in office in November. His resignation will set up a 2015 battle for his House seat, which covers parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn, as Republicans take full control of Congress next year.

Boehner met privately with Grimm on Monday about his future, sources told the Washington Post and Politico.

Though Boehner could not have prevented Grimm from being sworn in next month, he could ask the Ethics Committee for his expulsion, Politico reported.

Grimm faces a maximum of three years in prison when he is sentenced on June 8.

Additional reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Robert Birsel

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