UPDATE: Santos was released on a $500,000 bond and predictably insists he won’t resign. Read the original article below.
Well, that was rather quick.
George Santos, the perpetually lying GOP Congressman from New York, hasn’t even been in office a full year, but he has now been criminally charged with 13 offenses involving various fraud schemes victimizing both the government and prospective supporters of his political ambitions. He could face decades in prison if eventually found guilty, although maximum sentences are often not actually met. Per a recap from the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York, his charges include 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.
Among the more surprising features of the case against Santos is the revelation he improperly received tens of thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic despite separately maintaining gainful employment — employment he did not disclose to the House of Representatives in financial disclosures associated with an unsuccessful run for office he conducted in 2020. The total in unemployment benefits he received despite his employment passed $24,000, prosecutors said.
The issues extend substantially from there. Remember his astronomical claims of wealth in financial disclosures filed in tandem with his latter — and that time successful — run for Congress? He was lying. Despite claiming a salary of three-quarters of a million dollars from a company he ran, no such income stream existed at that level. He also lied about amounts in his checking and savings accounts. On the campaign side, he worked with another individual to direct individuals seeking to support his campaign to send tens of thousands of dollars to a personal company of his, which it sounds like may have been the firm where he was claiming that massive salary. Although a scheme to surpass limits on financial contributions for campaigns would itself be likely illegal, Santos apparently didn’t even use much of that money for actual campaigning, instead spending big for himself. That portion of his misconduct would seemingly provide for the wire fraud allegations.
It’s not yet clear which of the factual claims made by prosecutors may be contested by Santos, but all of this is the case authorities have assembled. Although the charges are, of course, new, many of the perhaps outright provable facts on which prosecutors have made their case were already known or at least suggested by publicly available information. Yet, Republican leadership mostly stuck with the Congressman.