Republican Rep. Michael Grimm announced his resignation late Monday, after he pleaded guilty to a felony tax evasion charge last week.
Grimm was just re-elected to a third term while facing the 20-count indictment, and said last week he would “absolutely not” resign, reports The New York Times. But after a meeting with Speaker of House John Boehner Monday, he announced a change of heart.
House ethics rules could have rendered him essentially useless to his New York district of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn.
The rules state that a member convicted of a crime with a potential sentence of two or more years in prison should not sit in committee meetings or vote on the floor for two years, according to The Times. And although he’s seeking probation, Grimm faces a penalty of up to three years in prison.
“I do not believe that I can continue to be 100 percent 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,” he said in a statement Monday.
Grimm pleaded guilty to all 20 charges of the indictment, reports The New York Daily News. He admitted to under-reporting $1 million of his employees wages when he owned a Manhattan restaurant, in part by paying illegal immigrant workers he had hired in cash; and to lying under oath in a deposition.
In an interview following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in January, Grimm notoriously threatened to throw a reporter who asked him a tough question off a balcony. He later apologized.
Grimm’s resignation will take effect the day before the new Congress is sworn in, reports The New York Daily News. Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will call a special election for the open seat.
“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,” Grimm said in the statement.
Grimm’s sentencing is scheduled for June 8.