New York

Congressman George Santos pleads not guilty to fraud and fraud charges

Rep. George Santos, known for falsifying his bio, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to multiple charges, including fraud in donations, theft from campaigns, lying to Congress about his wealth and fraudulent collection of unemployment insurance. bottom. Despite his indictment, Mr. Santos has declared his intention to seek re-election and rejected his request to resign.

After being arraigned, Santos surrendered his passport and was released after posting $500,000 bail. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. Santos told reporters outside federal court on Long Island that she would defend herself vigorously, dismissing her charges as a “witch-hunt” and defiantly dismissing them.

Santos has vowed to return to Washington, but questions are mounting over his ability to effectively serve as a freshman. House Republican leaders have taken a wait-and-see approach, emphasizing Santos’ presumption of innocence. However, some echo earlier calls for Santos to resign.

According to the indictment, Santos set up a company to trick his supporters into donating money under the pretense of supporting his campaign. Instead, prosecutors say he used the money for personal expenses, including luxuries and paying for credit cards and cars. Santos is also accused of providing false financial information on congressional disclosure forms and illegally collecting unemployment benefits while earning large sums of money.

U.S. prosecutor Breon Peace said the indictment was an effort to hold Santos accountable for the fraudulent schemes and deceptive conduct that allowed him to rise to Congress and profit himself.

During the arraignment, Santos did not directly address the charges, but when asked about receiving unemployment benefits while working, he cited job changes and disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Santos won a seat in parliament last fall after a campaign based on false claims. He claimed himself to be a wealthy Wall Street trader with a successful real estate portfolio and a track record in sports, but none of that was true. The indictment reveals that Santos did not work for the financial firms he claimed, did not attend college, and that he struggled financially before entering politics.

The allegations also question the income and dividends reported by the family-owned Deboulder Organization, which Mr. Santos listed on his financial disclosure form. The indictment alleges that Santos never received the amount listed and that his wealth claims were exaggerated.

Federal prosecutors say Santos set up Redstone Strategies to deceive donors. False emails were sent to potential donors saying the company was set up solely to support Santos’ campaign, and promised no limits on donations. But just before the election, Mr. Santos transferred a large sum of money from his company to his personal bank account.

Since his youth, Santos has faced legal troubles, including an investigation into alleged check fraud in Brazil. In 2017, he was charged with theft in Pennsylvania for using counterfeit checks to purchase puppies, but the lawsuit was dismissed after he claimed the checkbooks were stolen.

Federal authorities are also investigating Santos’ fundraising efforts for pet abuse prevention groups after he allegedly withheld funds raised for his dog’s surgery from veterans in New Jersey. Congressman George Santos pleads not guilty to fraud and fraud charges

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