Ex-fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Grimm sentenced to three months in custody

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 17, 2015 1:04 PM

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A woman who pleaded guilty to raising illegal campaign money for former U.S. Representative Michael Grimm of New York was sentenced on Tuesday to three months in custody.

The sentence for Diana Durand, 48, was unexpected because prosecutors had not recommended anything more than probation. U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson at a hearing in Brooklyn also ordered Durand to pay a $10,000 fine.

Durand pleaded guilty in September to violating the Federal Election Campaign Act by directing more than $10,000 in campaign contributions to two candidates for the House of Representatives in 2010 through straw donors whom she reimbursed, avoiding federal caps on donations.

Durand's attorney Stuart Kaplan has confirmed that one of the two candidates was Grimm, with whom she had a personal relationship.

It was not immediately clear whether Durand would serve the three months in jail or in a halfway house.

Kaplan said after the hearing he was shocked by the sentence and that he would ask the judge to reconsider.

"This is clearly, to me, a miscarriage of justice," he said.

Durand lives in Houston, where she works as a manager for an oil distributor.

Grimm, who represented New York City's borough of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn, was elected in 2010.

He announced his resignation in December after pleading guilty to tax evasion related to a Manhattan health food restaurant he partly owned, Healthalicious. He had been indicted on charges of fraud, perjury and conspiracy after a federal probe of his fundraising.

Grimm is scheduled to be sentenced in June.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson; Editing by David Ingram and Richard Chang)