The U.S. Department of Justice has filed criminal charges against U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) in connection to an ongoing federal probe into the first-term congressman’s campaign finance dealings.
The exact nature of the charges is unknown, as they have been filed under seal.
Santos is expected to appear in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn, as soon as Wednesday, May 10, in order to respond to the charges against him.
According to CNN, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department’s public integrity prosecutors in New York and Washington have been looking into Santos’s campaign finance filings to determine whether he made any false statements, which could carry penalties, including fines or possible jail time, depending on the severity of the charges.
Santos, elected last year to represent parts of Queens and Long Island, became the first out Republican elected to Congress as a non-incumbent. He has been the subject of multiple ethical and criminal investigations since the beginning of the year.
In addition to the Justice Department probe of Santos’s financial disclosures, Santos is also being investigated by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office.
According to The Guardian, any of the questions concerning his finances deal with the sources of his reported income, whether he engaged in a “straw donor” scheme to conceal the sources of campaign donations, and questions over whether he used campaign funds to pay for personal expenses.
Santos also faces a formal ethics complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission, as well as a probe by the U.S. House Committee on Ethics looking into possible 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.
An attorney for the congressman was not immediately available for comment.
Spokespeople for the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Justice Department, and the FBI declined to comment in response to inquiries from CNN and CNBC.
Santos has previously been accused of fabricating parts of his biography — some of which he admitted to in an interview with the conservative-leaning New York Post earlier this year — including his academic history, his extracurricular activities, his employment history, his ancestry, his family history, and his alleged connection to tragedies like the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Pulse nightclub shooting.
Those alleged fabrications, as well as concerns about possible campaign finance violations, have led many Democrats — and even some fellow New York Republicans — to call for his resignation.
But Santos has denied more serious criminal accusations, asserting he has committed no crime.
Authorities in Brazil previously reopened a criminal investigation into Santos dating back to 2008, in which the then-19-year-old Santos was accused of stealing a checkbook from a man for whom his mother worked, using it to purchase $700 in expensive clothing.
In March, CNN reported that Santos’s lawyer reportedly requested a deal under which Santos would formally confess to the crime and pay damages to the victim.
U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), a fellow New York congressman who has been among the loudest voices calling for investigations into Santos, released a statement in response to news of the charges.
“The criminal prosecution of U.S. Rep. George Santos is long overdue,” Torres said. “He is a pathological liar and lawbreaker who lied to the voters of New York State and defrauded his way into the United States Congress. About 800,000 American have been continually deprived of the honest representation they deserve in the People’s House.
“Although the details of the federal prosecution are not yet fully known, one thing is crystal clear — either Rep. Santos must resign or House Republican leadership, under Speaker Kevin McCarthy, must summon the courage to join House Democrats in expelling him.
“Rep. Santos is a deep rot of corruption at the core of Congress.”
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