Time was, the biggest problem facing George Santos was having to explain the many lies he’d been caught in, from claiming his grandparents had fled Hitler to telling a roommate he was a male model who was going to be featured in Vogue to allegedly swindling money from a disabled veteran’s dying dog. And even then, that didn’t pose much of a problem for the freshman representative from New York, who, when confronted with his trail of lies, either claimed he was being falsely maligned, denied the accusations (like in the case of the dog)‚ or simply ignored the avalanche of evidence against him. On Wednesday, though, things became a bit more complicated for George Anthony Devolder Santos, when he was indicted by the Justice Department on 13 federal charges, and was forced to surrender to the authorities.

Those charges, revealed in a 20-page indictment, were for wire fraud (seven counts), money laundering (three counts), false statements to the House of Representatives (two counts), and stealing public funds (one count). The majority of the accusations focus on Santos allegedly directing a political consultant, described only as “Person #1,” to solicit fraudulent contributions to a company that Santos claimed was a political fund (spoiler alert, it wasn’t). According to prosecutors, Santos “devised and executed a scheme to defraud supporters of his candidacy” by convincing them, via “Person #1,” to contribute funds “under the false pretense that the money would be used to support” his campaign for office, “and then actually spending thousands of dollars of the solicited funds on personal expenses, including luxury designer clothing and credit card payments.” Santos has also been accused of collecting around $24,744 in unemployment benefits from the COVID-era CARES Act, despite the fact that he was actually employed by a company paying him approximately $120,000 a year. (Fun fact, per The New York Times: “The congressman happens to be one of 35 cosponsors of a House bill that would make it easier for states to recover fraudulent pandemic unemployment benefits.”)

Elsewhere, the DOJ has alleged that Santos lied on his 2020 and 2022 financial disclosure forms. In 2020, according to the government, he failed to disclose income. In 2022, the Justice Department alleges, he inflated his salary by many multiples, and he lied about having a “checking account with deposits totaling between $100,001 and $250,000” and a “savings account with deposits totaling between $1,000,001 and $5,000,000.” (As the Times notes, one thing that still remains a mystery, at least to the public, is who loaned Santos’s campaign more than $700,000.)

Santos’s lawyer did not respond to the Times’ request for comment. Santos himself does not appear to have said anything about the news; his last tweet, on May 8, was about corruption in Nassau County, New York:

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Two days prior, he tweeted a fortune about being an underdog:

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The congressman has pleaded not guilty to all charges. 

In addition to the DOJ‘s case, which, should he be found guilty on all charges, could result in a maximum of 20 years in prison, Santos is also still the subject of an investigation by the House Ethics Committee. There’s also a criminal case in Brazil for check fraud and using a false name, which Santos admitted to in 2010; then he moved to the US and the local police and prosecutors couldn’t find him. In 2022 interview, he insisted: “I am not a criminal. Not here, not abroad, in any jurisdiction in the world have I ever committed any crimes.”

Anyway, if you’re wondering if Santos’s boss is still sticking with him, he is. Asked if the congressman will still be allowed to serve despite the federal indictment—on top of, y’know, everything else—House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Wednesday: “I’ll look at the charges. If a person is indicted, they’re not on committees. They have the right to vote, but they have to go to trial.”


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