Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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Friend of Grimm Pleads Guilty to Violating Campaign Finance Law

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TWC News: Friend of Grimm Pleads Guilty to Violating Campaign Finance Law
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A Houston woman and alleged ex-girlfriend of Rep. Michael Grimm entered into a plea deal Wednesday connected to charges that stem from fundraising for the congressman's first campaign in 2010. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

Diana Durand walked into federal court in Brooklyn on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance law.

The Houston woman admitted to funneling $12,000 in illegal campaign donations to two candidates for Congress in 2010, including Congressman Michael Grimm.

Durand has been described as being a "close friend" of the congressman.

The plea was part of a deal with prosecutors NY1 first reported on Tuesday.

"Ms. Durand takes full responsibility for her actions," said Stuart Kaplan, Durand's attorney. "Obviously, I think it's a lesson to everybody that ignorance is not a defense."

Durand was initially indicted in April on the heels of a 20-count indictment against the congressman.

"I believe Ms. Durand was a victim of having had a relationship with the congressman," Kaplan said.

In response to Wednesday's plea deal, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch released the following statement, saying, "We and our partners in the FBI are committed to protecting the integrity of the electoral process and will aggressively pursue anyone who attempts to circumvent federal campaign financing laws."

While both Durand and Grimm's cases are in the same courthouse in the same district, Durand's attorney said one has nothing to do with the other. Durand, he said, will not be a witness in Grimm's tax fraud trial, which will start in December.

"There is nothing to suggest whatsoever any complicity with respect to what Diana Durand just pled guilty to and in any complicity with respect to Michael Grimm," Kaplan said.

Durand herself did not take any questions.

Gross: Ms. Durand, do you have any comment today?
Durand: No, I do not.

Durand could face six months to a year behind bars, but her attorneys are hopeful she will only receive probation.

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