The Department of Justice has just announced the unsealing of a 13-count indictment against New York Republican Congressman George Santos. The charges include seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives. Santos was taken into custody on Wednesday morning and is scheduled to appear before US Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York, later in the day.
US Attorney Breon Peace, in a statement, explained that the indictment aims to hold Santos accountable for his alleged fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations. “Taken together, the allegations in the indictment charge Santos with relying repeatedly on dishonesty and deception to ascend to the halls of Congress and enrich himself,” he said.
Santos’ controversial time in Congress has been riddled with controversies, with even his Republican colleagues calling on him to come clean or resign. CNN reported that upon learning of the indictment, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he’d have to “look at the charges” before deciding whether Santos should be removed from Congress.
According to the DOJ, Santos’ alleged illegal activities began in 2020 when he applied for pandemic unemployment assistance and received over $24,000, even though he had a well-paying job. In the same year, he allegedly lied to Congress about his income during his first attempt to be elected to the House.
In 2022, Santos allegedly received $25,000 from two donors and deposited it into his personal bank account, claiming the funds would be used to aid his election campaign. Instead, he used it to buy “designer clothes” and pay off personal debts. Later that year, he lied to Congress again about his income.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr made a statement regarding the case, saying, “The Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section is committed to rooting out fraud and corruption, especially when committed by our elected officials. As alleged, Santos engaged in criminal conduct intended to deceive and defraud the American public…The Department of Justice will hold accountable anyone who engages in such criminality.”
This story is still unfolding, and we will provide updates as they become available. It is a grave reminder that the American people expect their elected officials to act with honesty and integrity and that anyone who betrays that trust will be held accountable by the law.
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