Wire fraud, money laundering and stealing public money: Here are the 13 charges against George Santos

Mr Santos surrended himself to authorities in federal court on Long Island on Wednesday

Ariana Baio
Wednesday 10 May 2023 16:57 BST
George Santos: The imposter in Congress | On The Ground

New York Representative George Santos has been arrested and charged with 13 criminal counts, including money laundering, stealing public money, wire fraud and making false statements to Congress.

In an indictment unsealed on Wednesday, federal prosecutors outlined three main fraudulent schemes that Mr Santos orchestrated to enrich himself.

One of the schemes included misleading supporters and donors into giving him money which Mr Santos allegedly used for personal expenses like purchasing designer clothing and credit card payments.

Another alleges Mr Santos attempted to receive unemployment benefits through New York State.

The final one alleges that Mr Santos lied about his personal finances when disclosing them to the House of Representatives during his campaign.

Mr Santos surrendered to authorities at federal court on Long Island Wednesday morning.

Here is a breakdown of the charges Santos is facing from each scheme.

Fraud Scheme: Five counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering

According to the unsealed indictment, between September and October 2022, Mr Santos allegedly “knowingly and intentionally devise a scheme and artifice to defraud and to obtain money by means of one or more materially false and fraudulent pretenses, presentation and promises.”

Federal prosecutors accused Mr Santos of lying to donors and supporters by portraying a Florida LLC company, which Mr Santos served as the manager of through another company, as a fund for his campaign for the House of Representatives.

The indictment alleges that Mr Santos told donors and supporters that the Florida LLC was a Section 501(c)(4) social welfare organisation, or an independent expenditure committee, when it was neither.

Three of the wire fraud counts allege that Mr Santos falsely told two unnamed donors that funding would be used to support his candidacy for the House by purchasing television advertisements.

However, Mr Santos allegedly used the money received for personal expenses, “including to make cash withdrawals, personal purchases of luxury designer clothing, credit card payments, a car payment, payments on personal debts, and one or more bank transfers to Devolder Santos’ personal associates.”

The three counts of money laundering allege that Mr Santos electronically transferred $24,000 - $25,000 of the money donors sent to the Florida company to his personal bank accounts

Unemployment benefits scheme: One count of theft of public money and two counts of wire fraud

Federal prosecutors claim Mr Santos did “knowingly and intentionally devise a scheme to artifice to defraud the NYS DOL, (New York State Department of Labor) and to obtain money from the NYS DOL by means or one or more materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises.”

These charges are related to Mr Santos’ alleged scheme to falsely apply and claim $24,744 in unemployment benefits from New York in 2020.

Mr Santos allegedly applied for unemployed claiming he was eligible for benefits through the CARES Act when really he was the regional director at an investment firm based in Florida earning an annual salary of $120,000.

False statements to House of Reps: two counts of making false statements

The indictment claims Mr Santos “knowingly and willfully” made false statements on his personal financial disclosure reports to the Clerk of the House which was delivered to the House Committee on Ethics.

In one count, federal prosecutors allege Mr Santos overstated the amount of money he made from a single source in May 2020 as $55,000 when he actually earned $27,555 from one company and $25,403 in income from an investment firm.

The other count alleges Mr Santos falsely reported the amount of money he made from 2021 until the filing date in September 2022.

Mr Santos claimed on his personal financial report he earned $750,000 from the Devolder Organization LLC, had unearned dividends from the company of $1m to $5m, owned a checking account with $100,000 to $250,000 and owned a savings account with $1m to $5m.

The indictment does not provide detail as to what the actual amounts were but says the reported amounts were untruthful.

It also says Mr Santos failed to report the $28,107 he made from an investment firm nor the unemployment insurance benefits he received from New York.

The Independent has reached out to Mr Santos’s office and his legal team for comment.

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