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Rep. Santos faces new fees he stole donor IDs, made unauthorized fees to their bank cards


FILE – U.S. Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., holds a miniature American flag that was introduced to him as he departs federal court docket, June 30, 2023, in Central Islip, N.Y. AP Photograph/John Minchillo, File

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. Rep. George Santos stole the identities of donors to his marketing campaign after which used their bank cards to ring up tens of 1000’s of {dollars} in unauthorized fees, based on a brand new indictment filed Tuesday.

He then wired a few of the cash to his personal private checking account, prosecutors stated, whereas utilizing the remaining to inflate his marketing campaign coffers.

The 23-count indictment replaces one filed in Might towards the New York Republican charging him with embezzling cash from his marketing campaign and mendacity to Congress about his wealth, amongst different offenses.

Within the up to date indictment, prosecutors accuse Santos of charging greater than $44,000 to his marketing campaign over a interval of months utilizing playing cards belonging to contributors with out their information. In a single case, he charged $12,000 to a contributor’s bank card and transferred the “overwhelming majority” of that cash into his private checking account, prosecutors stated.

Santos can also be accused of falsely reporting to the Federal Elections Fee that he had loaned his marketing campaign $500,000 when he truly hadn’t given something and had lower than $8,000 within the financial institution. The faux mortgage was an try and persuade Republican Celebration officers that he was a critical candidate, price their monetary help, the indictment stated.

“As alleged, Santos is charged with stealing individuals’s identities and making fees on his personal donors’ bank cards with out their authorization, mendacity to the FEC and, by extension, the general public concerning the monetary state of his marketing campaign,” U.S. Lawyer Breon Peace stated in a press release.

Santos got here out of a two-hour Republican convention on the U.S Capitol and informed reporters he had no touch upon the superseding indictment. “I used to be in convention like everybody else, with out my telephone, so I’ve nothing to say,” he stated. He has beforehand maintained his innocence, claiming he’s the sufferer of a “witch hunt.”

The brand new fees deepen the authorized peril for Santos, who seemingly faces a prolonged jail time period if convicted. To this point, he has resisted all calls to resign, insisting he intends to run for reelection subsequent 12 months.

Santos’ private {and professional} biography as a rich businessman started to unravel quickly after profitable election to symbolize components of Lengthy Island and Queens final 12 months, revealing a tangled internet of deception.

Along with mendacity to voters — about his distinguished Wall Road background, Jewish heritage, tutorial and athletic achievements, animal rescue work, actual property holdings and extra — Santos is accused of finishing up quite a few schemes meant to counterpoint himself and mislead his donors.

He was initially arrested in Might on a 13-count federal indictment, which charged him with utilizing funds earmarked for marketing campaign bills on designer garments and different private bills and improperly acquiring unemployment advantages meant for People who misplaced work due to the pandemic.

Free on bail whereas awaiting trial, Santos has described his litany of lies as victimless elaborations, whereas blaming a few of his monetary irregularities on his former marketing campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, who he claims “went rogue.”

Final week, Marks, a longtime Lengthy Island political bookkeeper, pleaded responsible to a fraud conspiracy cost, telling a choose she helped her former boss hoodwink potential donors and Republican celebration officers by submitting bogus marketing campaign finance reviews.

Tuesday’s indictment stated Marks and Santos have been concerned in the identical scheme to faux a $500,000 marketing campaign mortgage in an effort to meet a benchmark that might unlock extra help from a Republican Celebration committee. Santos has now additionally been charged with recording faux donations from at the least 10 individuals, all his or Marks’ family members, as a part of the identical effort to make the marketing campaign appear like it hit these fundraising objectives.

Santos was not initially charged within the prison criticism towards Marks, however was recognized in court docket papers as a “co-conspirator.”

The brand new indictment alleges a multi-part fraud by Santos, who allegedly duped each his donors and his members of the family.

In a single occasion, Santos allegedly swiped the bank card info of one among his contributors, who had already donated $5,800 to the marketing campaign, to offer himself a further $15,800 in funds, the indictment stated. As a result of the unauthorized fees exceeded contribution limits beneath federal regulation, Santos listed the extra funds as coming from his personal unwitting family members, prosecutors allege.

The bank card fraud scheme started in December 2021, prosecutors stated, shortly after Santos did not qualify for a Republican Celebration program that might have supplied monetary and logistical help to his second congressional marketing campaign.

In textual content messages to Marks on the time, he described himself as “misplaced and determined,” prosecutors stated.

Monetary questions have continued to swirl round Santos, who claimed to be wealthy however spent a lot of his maturity bouncing between low-paying jobs and unemployment, whereas heading off eviction circumstances and two separatecriminal fees regarding his use of unhealthy checks.

A separate fundraiser for Santos, Sam Miele, was additionally beforehand indicted on federal fees that he impersonated a high-ranking congressional aide whereas soliciting contributions for the Republican’s marketing campaign.

Prosecutors stated Miele, 27, impersonated the previous chief of employees to GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who on the time was the Home minority chief, by organising dummy e-mail addresses that resembled the staffer’s identify.

Miele’s legal professional, Kevin Marino, beforehand predicted his shopper can be exonerated at trial.

Related Press author Farnoush Amiri in Washington contributed to this report.