Congressmember George Santos: Federal prosecutors from Brooklyn are looking to bring a scandal-plagued career to an end

October 11, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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Congressmember George Santos, who represents New York’s Third District, has never been a stranger to controversy. But the superseding indictment filed on Tuesday in federal court against him reads like a crash course in political misadventure: conspiracy, wire fraud, false statements, falsification of records, aggravated identity theft and credit card fraud. 

If the 23 counts against him prove true, Santos’ brief tenure in Congress could serve as a master class in how not to finance a campaign.

“As alleged, Santos is charged with stealing people’s identities and making charges on his own donors’ credit cards without their authorization, lying to the FEC (Federal Election Commission) and, by extension, the public about the financial state of his campaign,” said Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “Santos falsely inflated the campaign’s reported receipts with non-existent loans and contributions that were either fabricated or stolen”

Among the most stunning charges is the allegation that Santos, along with his campaign treasurer Nancy Marks — who has already pleaded guilty — conspired to fabricate and inflate campaign donations to meet a fundraising benchmark. The goal was allegedly to qualify for a national party committee program that would offer financial and logistical support to Santos’s campaign. 

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

The alleged fraud didn’t stop there, as Santos reported a $500,000 loan to his campaign, while having less than $8,000 in his personal and business bank accounts.

Santos didn’t stop at creative accounting. The indictment also accuses him of identity theft, claiming he repeatedly charged contributors’ credit cards without permission. 

In a particularly audacious move, he allegedly charged one contributor’s card to the tune of at least $44,800, then used the stolen funds for various political and personal expenses.

The charges are severe, each carrying its own set of legal consequences. If convicted, Santos could face significant jail time, fines, and political fallout.

Charges include conspiracy to deceive the FEC and the public, with a maximum penalty of five years; multiple counts of wire fraud, each carrying up to 20 years; making false statements to both the FEC and the House, punishable by up to five years per count; falsifying records to obstruct the FEC, up to five years per count; aggravated identity theft, which mandates a two-year consecutive sentence; credit card fraud, with a maximum of 15 years; money laundering, up to 20 years per count; and theft of public funds, punishable by up to 10 years.

The case is set to be heard by Judge Joanna Seybert, known for her rigorous adherence to legal principles. Her involvement signals that every procedural and substantive aspect of the case will be meticulously examined.

Santos faces a daunting set of potential sentences if convicted. For example, just one wire fraud charge could net him 20 years, and that’s without considering the penalties for the other multiple counts he faces. Aggravated identity theft alone carries a mandatory consecutive two-year term.

These are allegations, and Santos is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Despite these allegations, Santos remains a sitting congressperson and is due back in federal court on October 27.


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