New York State Rep. George Santos pleads not guilty to federal charges, says he won’t resign

Central ISLIP, New York — USA Representative George Santosnotorious fabricate his life storyWednesday against accusations of defrauding donors, stealing from his campaign and lying to Congress that he was a billionaire while cheating to collect undeserved unemployment benefits. pleaded not guilty to

He then defied calls to resign, stating that he would not decline his bid for re-election.

13 federal indictments against SantosIt was the calculation of a web of fraud and deception that prosecutors say overlapped with the fantastical public image of New York Republicans as wealthy businessmen.

Santos, 34, was arraigned and released on $500,000 bail. About five hours later, she was charged with wire fraud, laundering her money, stealing public funds, and lying to Congress. He surrendered his passport and could face up to his 20 years in prison if convicted.

“This is the beginning of my ability to deal with myself and defend myself,” the jovial and belligerent Santos told reporters crowding him outside the federal courthouse on Long Island. said it was cooperating with the investigation and vowed to fight the prosecution, which it dubs a “witch hunt.”

His attorney, Joseph Murray, was more cautious and said: we have to take this seriously. ”

Santos said he planned to return to Washington, but the charges there have fueled doubts about the freshman’s ability to serve. House Republican leaders say Santos is innocent until proven guilty. Others are repeating earlier calls for Santos to step aside.

Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who confronted Santos on the House floor during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address in February, said, “I think you’re seeing the wheels of justice slowly turning. .

Asked about Santos on Wednesday, Biden said, “I am not commenting,” adding that his remarks would be interpreted as obstructing the investigation. When asked, Mr. Biden said, “That’s for Congress to decide.”

In the complaint, prosecutors say Santos set up a company and induced his supporters to donate on the false pretext that the money would be used to support his campaign. , they say, he used the money for designer clothes and personal expenses such as credit card and car payments.

Santos also lied about his finances and unemployment benefits on Congressional disclosure forms when he was making $120,000 as regional director of an investment firm that the government closed in 2021 due to allegations of a Ponzi scheme. It is accused of getting

The indictment “seeks to hold Santos liable for various fraud allegations and blatant misrepresentations,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace. “Taken together, the allegations in the indictment accuse Santos of relying on repeated dishonesty and deceit to take the floor of Congress and enrich himself.”

Santos did not directly address reporters with details of the charges, but when asked why he received unemployment benefits while employed, Santos cited job changes and disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic. .

Santos, dressed in his usual crewneck sweater, blazer and khakis, said little during the arraignment, which lasted about 15 minutes. rice field.

“He should be kicked out of Congress and put in prison,” declared Jeff Hertzberg, a Long Island resident who waited hours to see Santos’ arraignment. I hope.”

After being elected to the House of Representatives last fall, Santos Campaigns built in part on falsehoodsHe said he was a wealthy Wall Street dealmaker with a sizable real estate portfolio and a volleyball star in college.

In reality, Santos didn’t work for the big financial firm he said he hired, didn’t go to college, and struggled financially before entering politics. He claimed that he fueled his run primarily with his self-made wealth derived from brokering expensive toy deals for wealthy clients, but his indictment also exaggerated those boasts. claims to be

Santos reported on the House Financial Disclosures form that it makes $750,000 a year from family-owned Deboulder Organization, but indictments made public Wednesday said Santos did not receive that amount and is expected to pay $100. Dividends of $10,000 and $5 million are also solid.

Santos describes the Devolder Organization as a broker for the sale of luxury goods such as yachts and aircraft. The business was incorporated in Florida shortly after Santos retired from working at Harbor City Capital. Harbor City Capital is a company accused by federal authorities of operating an illegal Ponzi scheme.

In November 2021, Santos founded Redstone Strategies, a Florida company. Federal prosecutors say Santos tricked donors into funding his lifestyle. According to the indictment, Santos told an employee to solicit donations for the company and gave the person the potential donor’s contact information.

According to the indictment, emails to prospective donors falsely claimed that the company was founded “exclusively” to help Santos’s election bid and that there was no limit to the amount that could be donated. He falsely claimed that the money would be used for television advertising and other campaign costs.

However, a month before the election, Santos transferred approximately $74,000 from the company to a bank account he maintained, the indictment says. He also sent money to some of his associates, it said.

Santos’ legal troubles date back to his late teens when he was investigated in Brazil for allegedly using stolen checks to buy clothes.

In 2017, Santos indicted for theft In Pennsylvania, the lawsuit was filed after Santos claimed his checkbook was stolen and someone else took the dog away. Rejected.

Federal officials are separately investigating complaints about Santos’ funding for groups that claim to help abused pets. failed to deliver $3,000 He bred the dog to help him get the surgery he needed. New York State Rep. George Santos pleads not guilty to federal charges, says he won’t resign

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