When “Corruption” Means Refusing to Pay to the Syndicate

I am not sympathetic to Michael Grimm. He stood for the laws even as he broke them. He was a hypocrite, acting as if he was above the law.

But the way Judicial Watch reports on the accusations, I can’t help but wonder about these laws.

Just when you thought you’ve heard it all, a United States Congressman who was a Marine and FBI agent before getting elected has been indicted for hiding more than $1 million in profits from a restaurant that employed a large number of illegal immigrants.

It has all the ingredients of a classic story of government corruption starring a military veteran, who continued serving his country as a federal agent before constituents in Staten Island and Brooklyn New York chose him to represent them Washington. His name is Michael Grimm, a disgraced Republican, who was slapped with a juicy, 20-count federal indictment this month.

Grimm, who is also an attorney and an accountant, was an owner and managing member of an Upper East Side fast-food restaurant called Healthalicious. From 2007 to 2010 the congressman oversaw the restaurant’s day-to-day operations and he filed false state and federal tax returns to conceal north of $1 million in sales and wages, according to the feds. He also paid cooks, cashiers and delivery persons, many of them in the U.S. illegally, hundreds of thousands of dollars off the books.

To increase the profitability of the restaurant, the indictment says, Grimm engaged in schemes to fraudulently under-report the wages he paid his workers and fraudulently under-report the true amount of money the restaurant earned to both federal and New York state tax and insurance authorities. Many of the workers did not have legal status in the United States, according to the federal complaint, and Grimm paid them in cash. This lowered the restaurant’s payroll tax costs.

One sin led to another, of course, and Grimm went on to commit perjury.

He needs to serve in prison. But the laws he broke seem to me to be as corrupt as he is. He had no right to exempt himself from them, but they are still obviously corrupt.

Grimm’s accusers say he committed his crimes “to increase the profitability of the restaurant.” But what if we consider that maybe he did what he did in order to stay in business? The governments claiming jurisdiction over the restaurant demanded a variety of payments. They demanded that he pay them for each and every employee. For all we know, the restaurant would have ended if Grimm had followed all the rules.

Granted, illegal immigrants should not be here. But in other respects Grimm was operating in a way that benefitted the employees (all of them) and benefitted the customers who kept coming to pay the price he was asking for the food he served. I have to assume the restaurant will be closed down now. So suddenly people will not be able to eat there anymore, and many will now be unemployed.

Consider how many restaurants fail every year. People who play by the rules that Grimm ignored end up failing because they can’t support the burden of all the chiseling taxes they have to pay. They can’t afford minimum wage along with the other expenses that each employee costs an employer. Yes, it is outrageous that Grimm refused to play by those same rules. But it is even more outrageous that we impose rules that hurt so many people.