New York congressman George Santos has been indicted on a raft of federal charges that could put him behind bars for decades. A 13-count indictment was unsealed on May 10 when Santos appeared in a Suffolk County district court. He faces one count of stealing public funds, two counts of making false statements to the U.S. House of Representatives, three counts of money laundering and seven counts of wire fraud. After posting a $500,000 bond, the beleaguered lawmaker vowed not to resign. He is scheduled to appear in court again on June 30.
The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the House Ethics Committee and the Federal Elections Committee launched investigations into Santos after media outlets reported that he had falsified his resume and financial records while running for Congress. According to court papers, investigators discovered that Santos enlisted the help of an unnamed political consultant to violate campaign finance laws.
Prosecutors claim that Santos transferred $25,000 of the money he allegedly obtained illegally to two personal bank accounts. He is then said to have used the money to purchase designer clothing and make auto loan and credit card payments. Santos is also charged with other white-collar crimes for failing to report $50,000 in income and lying to Congress about the source of a $705,000 campaign loan.
Plea agreement likely
Santos told reporters as he left the courtroom that he was innocent and would be providing prosecutors with “plenty of evidence,” but he will probably enter into a plea agreement before the case goes to trial. Prosecutors rarely seek indictments in white-collar crime investigations until they have compelling evidence, and that is especially true when the suspect is a public figure and the case is likely to attract a great deal of media attention.