Out Rep. George Santos (R-NY) had agreed to formally confess to committing check fraud in Brazil in 2008, where he defrauded a store near Rio de Janeiro out of $1300 of clothes and shoes.
CNN reports that documents show that Santos’s lawyer petitioned for a deal where Santos would formally confess and pay damages to the victim, a clerk at the store whose wages were docked to pay for Santos’ fraud. Prosecutors sent a memo agreeing to the deal.
The case involves a fake ID and a checkbook that Santos allegedly stole from one of his mother’s patients. Santos used a check from the checkbook – which had already been canceled – to buy some clothes and shoes at a store in Niterói, Brazil.
After buying the clothes at the store, a man named Thiago came in trying to exchange the shoes for a different size, saying they were a gift from a friend.
The store became suspicious since two of Santos’s forged checks, meant to pay for the clothes in installments, didn’t have matching signatures. The store contacted the account owner, who said he lost his checkbook in 2006 and closed his bank account.
The store then made a clerk pay for some of Santos’s purchases, and the clerk tracked down Santos on social media. Santos promised to pay but never did, and then the clerk turned over Santos’s picture and information to the police.
According to court documents, Santos was called in to speak with police in 2008, 2009, and 2010. In November 2010, Santos’s mother, a nurse, told police that she had the checkbook in her purse and that it belonged to Delio da Camara da Costa Alemao, a patient of hers. She said that her son stole and used four checks from the checkbook.
That same month, Santos confessed to stealing “some sheets” from the checkbook, the documents say. He said he forged the patient’s signature to buy shoes and clothes for $1,313.63. He also claimed to be a professor – which there is no evidence that he ever was – and said he had dual U.S./Brazilian citizenship.
He said that his mother asked him to return the checkbook but that he had already torn the checks to pieces and thrown them down a manhole, the documents say.
Santos “acknowledged having been responsible for forging the signatures on the checks, also confirming that he had destroyed the remaining checks,” the report said, according to an earlier CNN article. The document includes a signed confession from Santos dated November 18, 2010.
In 2011, investigators tried to press charges against Santos, but neither Santos nor his lawyer responded to a judge’s summons. Authorities attempted to deliver a summons to his address, but he wasn’t there, nor was his mother.
In 2013, the court published a statement in the local newspaper telling him to go to court. He never did. The judge suspended the statute of limitations in case he was ever found again. Brazilian authorities said last week that they’re reviving the investigation now that he has been located.
In 2022, after he had been elected, several news articles pointed out that Santos was lying about many aspects of his past and couldn’t produce evidence to support others. Santos has admitted to lying about much of his history but denied criminal wrongdoing.
“I am not a criminal here – not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world. Absolutely not. That didn’t happen,” he said.
The new agreement would mean that Santos wouldn’t be prosecuted, which his lawyer argued is appropriate now that he’s employed and “re-socialized.”