Rep. Grimm to Resign After Guilty Plea to Tax Charge

PHOTO: U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, center, speaks to the media outside of federal court in New York, April 28, 2014.PlaySeth Wenig/AP Photo
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Rep. Michael Grimm, who pleaded guilty to a felony tax charge in federal court last week, plans to resign his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 5, he announced in a statement.

"This decision is made with a heavy heart, as I have enjoyed a very special relationship and closeness with my constituents, whom I care about deeply," he said in the statement, which was released late Monday.

"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% 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."

Speaker John Boehner and House Republican leadership pushed Grimm to step down, two senior GOP advisers told ABC News. Grimm had hoped to keep his seat, at least for a while in the wake of pleading guilty to tax fraud, but Republican leaders "gave him no choice," aides said.

The speaker and Republican leaders were eager to put the matter behind them before the new session of Congress begins next week.

Last week, Grimm told reporters outside the courtroom that he would not resign.

"As I said before as long as I am able to serve I will serve," he said.

Grimm pleaded guilty to a single count of aiding in the preparation of a false tax return in 2009 and also agreed to pay an undetermined amount of restitution to the IRS and New York State on tax returns dating from 2007 to 2010. Grimm faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison and is set to be sentenced on June 8 in arguably the highest-profile public corruption case in New York in decades.

The Staten Island Republican told reporters after the hearing that he made some "big mistakes,” explaining that he "under-reported" sales receipts to pay business expenses, including compensating employees "off the books."

"As a result the taxes were inaccurate," Grimm admitted. "It's wrong...I should not have done it."

Last month, the House Ethics Committee again deferred consideration of Grimm's alleged violations of campaign finance law to the Department of Justice. Grimm pleaded not guilty to a 20-count indictment last April stemming from allegations of fraud and misconduct tied to a New York restaurant he co-owned before taking office.

Grimm is also alleged to have solicited and accepted prohibited campaign contributions, caused false information to be included in campaign finance reports and allegedly made a deal with a foreign national to collect campaign contributions in exchange for help getting a green card.

"As an elected official, Grimm was responsible for deciding how taxpayers' money should be spent, yet he chose not to pay his fair share of taxes while operating his business," George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge at the New York Field Office, wrote in a statement. "Adding insult to injury, while serving as a Member of Congress, Grimm lied under oath in an effort to conceal his criminal activity. The public expects their elected officials at all levels of government to behave honorably, or at a minimum, lawfully. As his guilty plea demonstrates, Grimm put self-interest above public service."

Grimm holds a unique position in Congress: He is the only member of the House majority to represent New York City. But he also is a fairly typical species in Big Apple politics -- a ranking elected official hauled into criminal court by the FBI. In the last five years, the city has seen an embarrassing parade of pols arrested, capped off by a bipartisan plot to try and rig the GOP nomination for mayor.

Plea negotiations had dragged on for months. Sources indicated the case against Grimm was "solid" but "not good for the bureau" given Grimm's history as a former FBI agent.

Grimm was slated to be sworn into a third term in office on January 6.

Even before the court appearance, Democrats seized on the expected admission of guilt, calling on Grimm to resign from his seat in the House of Representatives.

"Now that the election is over, Congressman Grimm is finally admitting the truth to his constituents," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, noted in a written statement last week. "Clearly, Speaker Boehner must insist that Congressman Grimm resign immediately."

House Speaker John Boehner's spokesman Michael Steel said Boehner “won't have any announcements until the Speaker discusses the matter with Mr. Grimm."

The two-term congressman gained national notoriety after he threatened to throw NY1/Time Warner Cable News reporter Michael Scotto off the Cannon Rotunda balcony following the president’s State of the Union address last January. Scotto was also in the courtroom today, seated in the front row.

ABC News' Mike Levine and Josh Margolin contributed to this report.