Fundraiser for NY Congressman Arrested in Campaign Finance Scheme

A fundraiser for Staten Island congressman Michael Grimm has been arrested in connection with an alleged campaign finance scheme, authorities say.

Diana Durand was arrested by the FBI Friday, accused of using straw donors to allegedly funnel more than $10,000 into the Grimm campaign. She also allegedly lied to federal agents when questioned about the scheme and her alleged violations of the $4,800 campaign limits, officials said.

The fake donor, described as a personal friend of Durand, told authorities that Durand suggested she donate to Grimm’s campaign and that she promised to reimburse her, according to the FBI. 

Durand’s attorney did not immediately return a request for comment.

Grimm, a Republican, has not been charged with any wrongdoing. His attorney William McGinley said: "We are saddened that the government took the extraordinary step of arresting a single mother on these allegations, and hope the matter will be resolved quickly. The complaint does not allege any improper conduct by Congressman Grimm, and he denies any wrongdoing.”

The FBI said it has emails Durand wrote about the alleged campaign scheme.

“I was hoping for my birthday you will just let me forget about paying you back …… Just kidding,” Durand allegedly wrote in one.

Prosecutors said she then wrote the donor a check for reimbursement which was cashed on April 6, 2010.

The criminal charges filed out of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn show the criminal investigation into fundraising linked to the Grimm 2009-2010 campaign is ongoing. In August 2012, questions began to surface about the fundraising activities of an illegal immigrant rabbi and thousands of dollars he allegedly helped raised for the congressman. To date, that rabbi has only been charged in connection with lying on immigration documents.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch declined to comment on the charges filed on Friday or the broader investigation.

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