Metro Weekly

George Santos Criminal Charges Unsealed

The Justice Department drops 13-count indictment against the gay Republican congressman over alleged campaign dealings.

Santos, Official Portrait – Hand Cuffs by Nevodka, Dreamstime

U.S. Rep. George Santos surrendered to the authorities at a federal courthouse on Long Island after the U.S. Department of Justice brought a 13-count criminal indictment against the openly gay first-term congressman. 

The New York Republican was taken into custody at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, located in Central Islip, on Long Island, on Wednesday morning, just hours after the Justice Department announced its intention to move forward with charges against Santos over alleged violations of campaign finance laws. 

Although the charges against Santos were sealed when they were first announced, those charges have since been unsealed, according to NBC News.

The Justice Department indictment charges Santos 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 U.S. House of Representatives. 

The congressman is scheduled to appear in court for a 1 p.m. hearing, at which time a judge is expected to set forth various conditions.

These could range from setting bail to being forced to turn over his passports, ensuring he returns to court after being released from custody. It remains unclear whether Santos will enter a plea at this time. 

Santos, who became the first gay Republican elected to Congress as a non-incumbent during last year’s midterm elections, came under scrutiny last December after The New York Times and other media outlets began reporting on a number of biographical fabrications the congressman reportedly told while on the campaign trail.

He later admitted to some of those fabrications, including his educational and work history and his ancestry and family background. He has since been accused of misrepresenting his charitable actions, and falsely claiming connections to large-scale tragic historical events, such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001 and the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida.

Subsequent reporting raised questions about Santos’s financial dealings, including the operation of an animal rescue charity he founded, allegations that he used campaign funds to pay for personal expenses, and several irregularities regarding campaign finance reporting, including questions surrounding the source of his income, whether he engaged in a “straw donor” scheme to conceal the sources of campaign donations, and an alleged $19 million luxury yacht deal brokered by Santos between two of his donors, according to The New York Times.

Santos has been the subject of multiple ethical and criminal investigations since the beginning of the year. In addition to the federal charges against him, Santos is the subject of a separate investigation by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, and a House Ethics Committee investigation looking into alleged campaign finance violations, as well as an allegation of sexual misconduct made by a prospective office staffer who temporarily worked in Santos’s D.C. office.

Authorities in Brazil, where Santos previously stayed with his family, reopened a criminal investigation earlier this year looking into allegations that Santos stole a checkbook from his mother’s employer and wrote checks to purchase more than $700 in expensive clothing. But Santos’s lawyer reportedly negotiated a deal under which Santos would formally confess to the crime and pay damages to the victim, according to CNN.

Santos has previously denied any criminal wrongdoing, but has not yet commented on the most recent charges. 

A spokeswoman in Santos’s D.C. office referred questions from the Times to Santos’s lawyer, Joe Murray, who did not respond to a request for comment. 

Murray also did not respond to a request for comment from Metro Weekly.

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