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In Michael Grimm case, woman pleads guilty in illegal campaign contributions

This May 9, 2012 file photo shows Rep.

This May 9, 2012 file photo shows Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y. speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington. Credit: AP / Jacquelyn Martin

Diana Durand, a Houston woman who came under scrutiny last year in the federal investigation of Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm, pleaded guilty Wednesday to making illegal campaign contributions to Grimm and another congressman.

Durand, 48, described by her a lawyer as a former "friend" of Grimm who is now just an "acquaintance," told U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson in Brooklyn that she used straw donors to make excessive donations for the 2010 election, but did not implicate Grimm.

That echoed her position throughout the federal investigation, insisting she acted on her own, despite pressure to cooperate against Grimm. Grimm was indicted on charges of evading taxes and hiring immigrants without legal papers at a restaurant he owned, but not campaign-finance charges.

Durand faces up to 2 years in jail, and federal sentencing guidelines call for her to serve 6 to 12 months in prison. But as part of a plea deal, prosecutors said they would not oppose a request for probation. She is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 20.

Grimm, a Republican former FBI agent, is running for a third term. He is scheduled to be tried beginning Dec. 1.

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