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Judge rejects Rep. Michael Grimm's bid seeking L.I. Assembly candidate's role in indictment

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) leaves federal court

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) leaves federal court in Brooklyn on Monday, April 29, 2014. Credit: Charles Eckert

A Brooklyn federal judge Tuesday rejected Rep. Michael Grimm's bid to find out more about the role a Long Island State Assembly candidate played in this year's indictment of the Staten Island congressman on tax evasion charges.

Grimm, a Republican, contends he was targeted due to politics and has complained that former prosecutor Todd Kaminsky, a key figure in the federal probe of Grimm, resigned to run as a Democrat on the South Shore.

But U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen -- herself a former colleague of Kaminsky under Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch -- said the claim of taint was too thin to order prosecutors to provide details on Kaminsky's role.

"The mere fact that he's a Democrat who is now a politician does not indicate he did not carry out his job honestly and faithfully while during the time he was working on this case," she told Grimm and his lawyer.

Grimm, 44, a Marine veteran and former FBI agent, was charged in April with hiring illegal immigrants to work at a Manhattan health food restaurant he owned, evading taxes on $1 million in receipts and lying in a civil suit.

Locked in a re-election fight, Grimm plans motions to dismiss the case for selective and vindictive prosecution. Chen called that "speculation," noting that Kaminsky did not make charging decisions, and the office had no pattern of charging Republicans.

"All the politicians prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office for the last four years have been Democrats," the judge said. Those cases have included Democratic state senators Pedro Espada, Shirley Huntley and John Sampson.

Kaminsky, who is running in the 20th Assembly District covering Oceanside and Long Beach, was one of the trial prosecutors in the Espada case.

In other developments in the case, Chen said she would delay the start of trial from Dec. 1 until Feb. 2 to give the defense more time to prepare. Grimm previously sought a delay to make sure jurors weren't influenced by campaign publicity.

Also, Grimm's lawyers said they plan to seek dismissal of the charge of lying in a civil suit over workers' pay for lack of venue, because it occurred in Manhattan, not in Brooklyn.

Prosecutors said they would re-indict him on that charge in Manhattan, and pursue a separate trial in federal court there.

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