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IPFS News Link • Courtroom and Trials

Rep. George Santos charged with fraud, money laundering, using donor funds on designer duds

• By Priscilla DeGregory and Kyle Schnitzer

Santos, 34, is also accused of cheating his way to COVID unemployment benefits and lying to Congress on financial disclosure forms in which he claimed to be a millionaire, according to the 13-count indictment against him.

He pleaded not guilty at his first appearance in Central Islip federal court and was released on $500,000 bond.

The openly gay GOP lawmaker — who was elected Nov. 8 to represent New York's 3rd District in Long Island and Queens — made headlines last year after copping to elaborate lies about his education, work experience, and family history before he was voted in. Santos has since been deemed a pariah by other New York Republicans — many of whom have called for him to step down.

He was arraigned Wednesday afternoon on a 13-count indictment charging him with seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives.

"This indictment seeks to hold Santos accountable for various alleged fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations," said US Attorney Breon Peace in a statement.

Prosecutors accuse Santos of "relying on repeated dishonesty and deception to ascend to the halls of Congress and enrich himself," Peace said.

"He used political contributions to line his pockets, unlawfully applied for unemployment benefits that should have gone to New Yorkers who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic and lied to the House of Representatives," Peace continued.

According to the indictment, Santos allegedly solicited two separate payments of $25,000 from two people under the pretense that the money would be used for TV advertisements and for other campaign costs in the 2022 race.