Federal prosecutors have filed 13 criminal charges against gay Rep. George Santos (R-NY) including three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, seven counts of wire fraud, and two counts of materially false statements to Congress, unsealed court documents revealed.
Santos was arrested and taken into custody by FBI agents. He is expected to appear before a judge on Wednesday in New York’s eastern district federal court in order to file a plea. If convicted, he could face at least 20 years in prison, prosecutors say.
When asked on Tuesday whether he would encourage Santos to resign, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told CNN, “I’ll look at the charges.”
The charges accuse Santos of masterminding “a scheme to defraud supporters of his candidacy for the House and to obtain money from them by fraudulently inducing supporters to contribute funds” to an unnamed company “under the false pretense that the money would be used to support [Santos’] candidacy.” They also allege that Santos spent the funds on personal expenses like “luxury designer clothing and credit card payments,” Common Dreams reported.
Santos has previously admitted to lying to “everyone” about his largely fabricated personal history. He has admitted that he lied about graduating from Baruch College and New York University, working directly for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, and living at a fake address in his congressional district.
He has provided no additional proof to back up claims that he lost four employees in the June 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, that his mother died in the September 11 terrorist attacks, that he attended the Horace-Mann School, and that he is legally married to the man he currently refers to as his husband. He also claimed his Jewish grandparents fled Nazi persecution in Ukraine, but genealogical records showed that his grandparents were born in Brazil. Santos has since claimed that he’s not Jewish, but rather “Jew-ish.”
Santos was part of Rio’s drag scene in the late 2000s (despite initially claiming that he was never a drag queen). Santos also denied an accusation of check fraud in Brazil but later formally confessed to it. Some have questioned whether he married his ex-wife so that she could obtain U.S. citizenship through him. He also pledged not to seek re-election and then announced his re-election campaign last month.
In March, the House Ethics Committee announced its investigation into whether Santos violated federal conflict of interest laws and engaged in sexual misconduct. Around the same time, he also received a letter from the Federal Election Commission detailing campaign donation violations during his 2022 congressional campaign. In January, the Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation into his campaign finances.
Since joining Congress, Santos has cosponsored a bill to roll back LGBTQ+ civil rights and one to ban LGBTQ+ books from schools. He has also made public statements against transgender people, the so-called “radical rainbow mafia.” and he said that LGBTQ+ families “create troubled individuals.”
The FBI and prosecutors in New York and Washington D.C. have also been investigating Santos’s past false statements and possible campaign violations, CNN noted.