October 12, 2023
On Tuesday, October 10, federal prosecutors filed a significant array of additional charges against Representative George Santos (R-New York)—accusing him of new criminal schemes, including stealing the identities and credit card details of donors to his campaign, reports The New York Times.
The new accusations were made in a 23-count superseding indictment that laid out how Santos had charged his donors’ credit cards “repeatedly, without their authorization,” distributing the money to his and other candidates’ campaigns and to his own bank account.
The new indictment, filed in the Eastern District of New York, added ten charges against Santos: conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, access device fraud, false statements to the Federal Election Commission, and falsifying records to obstruct the commission.
The accusations against Santos, a first-term congressman, seem vastly different from the typical corruption cases that ensnare politicians. Many of those have hinged on intricate quid pro quos and complex legal questions about the nature of a political bribe.
Santos’s alleged misdeeds, in contrast, have more in common with those of a run-of-the-mill grifter, the Times notes.
Among other things, prosecutors say that Santos stole a donor’s credit card number to transfer more than $11,000 to his own bank account, and swindled $50,000 from two other donors using a fake nonprofit—availing himself of the money to buy designer goods and settle personal debts. They say he faked being wealthy to impress Republican leaders, reported a fictitious $500,000 campaign loan to get their financial support, and made up tens of thousands in donations to give the impression of runaway political success.
The updated indictment came five days after Santos’s campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and admitted to her role in fraudulently reporting the fictional $500,000 loan.
Marks said in court that she and an unnamed co-conspirator agreed to making reports of false donations and falsifying the loan. The superseding indictment made clear what was already widely surmised: The co-conspirator was Santos.
“Santos falsely inflated the campaign’s reported receipts with nonexistent loans and contributions that were either fabricated or stolen,” Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District, said in a statement.
Santos refused to comment on the new charges, telling reporters in Washington that he had not recently checked his phone, but had no plans to resign. A lawyer for Santos, Joseph Murray, declined to comment.
Santos is scheduled to return to court on the original indictment on October 27.
Research contact: @nytimes