A week after pleading guilty to a single count of tax fraud in Brooklyn federal court, New York Rep Michael Grimm announced he would resign, sparking buzz about potential candidates to fill the soon-to-be vacant seat.
In a statement Monday, Grimm said he felt he could no longer be "100 percent effective in the next Congress." His resignation will take effect Jan. 5.
"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.
Grimm's guilty plea last week to aiding in the filing of a false tax return came after he was re-elected to his Staten Island seat in November, even though he was under indictment.
Grimm reportedly talked with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, before deciding to step down. Boehner has forced other lawmakers to resign for lesser offenses.
In a statement, Boehner said Grimm made the "honorable decision" in stepping down.
"I know it was made with the best interests of his constituents and the institution in mind, and I appreciate his years of service in the House," Boehner said.
A former Marine and FBI agent with support from former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Grimm was elected to Congress in 2010, scoring an upset win over first-term Democratic Rep. Michael McMahon.
Typically, Gov. Cuomo would have 30 days to announce a special election, which would be held up to 60 days after that. New York City Board of Elections Director Michael Ryan said a special election would cost $960,000 if it were held on a date when another election was not being held.
Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, a Republican with more than 25 years of public service experience who has co-authored legislation with Grimm, has been among the names tossed around as a possible candidate to replace Grimm in the 11th Congressional District.
In a statement Tuesday, Donovan said "my phone has been ringing off the hook" since Grimm announced he would step down. He said he was "deeply flattered by the enthusiastic expressions of support" and is seriously considering an entry in the special election.
The longtime prosecutor was slammed across the city after the grand jury he convened failed to indict a police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, but has maintained widespread support in his borough over the years. Two GOP sources said the party would likely unite behind Donovan.
Former Rep. Michael McMahon, a Democrat who represented the 13th Congressional District, and Republican State Sen. Andrew Lanza are among the others considered to be possible candidates. A source close to McMahon told NBC 4 New York McMahon was "considering" a run but wanted to enjoy the rest of the holidays with his family before he made any decisions.
A message left at Lanza's office was not immediately returned.
The new Congress is scheduled to open Jan. 6, and Grimm's presence would have been a distraction for Republicans who will control both the House and the Senate.
According to the indictment, the tax fraud began in 2007 after Grimm retired from the FBI and began investing in a small Manhattan restaurant called Healthalicious.
The indictment accused him of underreporting more than $1 million in wages and receipts to evade payroll, income and sales taxes, partly by paying immigrant workers, some of them in the country illegally, in cash.
"The congressman fully embraces and accepts his responsibility for his actions," his lawyer, Stuart N. Kaplan, said in a statement Tuesday, adding that Grimm "shows great humility in moving forward for himself, as well as his constituents, to resign."
Grimm's sentencing is scheduled for June 8. Prosecutors said a range of 24 to 30 months in prison would be appropriate, while the defense estimated the appropriate sentence as between 12 and 18 months.
After his court appearance last week, Grimm said he planned to stay in Congress. "As long as I'm able to serve, I'm going to serve," he said.
He also apologized for his actions. "I should not have done it, and I am truly sorry for it," he said.
In his statement Monday, Grimm said he made his "very difficult decision ... with a heavy heart" after much thought and prayer.
-Andrew Siff contributed to this report