The Republican congressman from New York is accused of stealing the identities and financial information of his campaign donors and using their credit cards for unauthorized charges.
Santos allegedly used donor credit cards to fund his campaign and personal account
According to a superseding indictment unsealed on Tuesday, Rep. George Santos devised a scheme to steal the identities and financial information of his campaign donors, which he used to charge their credit cards and cause money to be deposited into his campaign, other campaigns, and his own bank account. The indictment alleges that Santos stole the billing details of a donor’s two credit cards and made transfers to his campaign. To avoid exceeding legal limits, prosecutors said, Santos falsely listed himself and relatives as the sources of the funds. On one occasion, prosecutors said, Santos charged $12,000 to the donor’s credit card – money that mostly ended up in his personal bank account.
The indictment also accuses Santos of engaging in a conspiracy to submit false reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that inflated his campaign’s fundraising so he could deceive the Republican party into extending financial support. The deception included false FEC reports that said at least 10 family members of Santos and his former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, had made significant contributions to the campaign, as well as false reports that said Santos had loaned large amounts of money to his campaign, including one $500,000 loan.
Santos faces 23 counts of various crimes
The new charges add to the original indictment filed in May, which accused Santos of engaging in multiple instances of fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and making false statements. Santos, who won his congressional seat through a campaign built partly on falsehoods, pleaded not guilty to those charges. The updated indictment adds 10 more charges: one count of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, two counts of wire fraud, two counts of making materially false statements to the FEC, two counts of falsifying records submitted to obstruct the FEC, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of access device fraud.
Santos faces up to 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and access device fraud, up to five years for each count of conspiracy and making false statements, and up to three years for each count of falsifying records. He also faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years for each count of aggravated identity theft.
Santos denies the allegations and refuses to resign
Santos has maintained his innocence and refused to resign from his seat. He has claimed that he is a victim of a political witch hunt orchestrated by Democrats and the media. He has also accused Marks, who pleaded guilty last week to defrauding the United States, of being a rogue employee who acted without his knowledge or consent.
Santos’s lawyer, Robert Katzberg, said in a statement that the new charges were “baseless” and “an attempt to salvage an unwarranted prosecution”. He said that Santos would “vigorously defend himself against these false allegations” and “continue to serve his constituents with honor and integrity”.
Santos is scheduled to appear in court on October 18 for a pretrial conference. His trial is expected to begin in January 2024.