Live Updates: George Santos Is in Custody Facing Federal Charges
"The scandal-plagued congressman, who ran on a life story littered with lies, was charged in a wide-ranging indictment with wire fraud, money laundering, stealing public funds and lying on federal disclosure forms.
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. — Representative George Santos, the Republican whose pivotal victory in New York was soon followed by revelations that he had falsified his biography on the campaign trail, has been charged by federal prosecutors in a wide-ranging indictment accusing him of wire fraud, money laundering, stealing public funds and lying in federal disclosure forms.
Mr. Santos surrendered to the authorities at federal court on Long Island on Wednesday morning, after which the indictment was unsealed. He is expected to appear before a magistrate judge on Wednesday afternoon.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has made no move to penalize or marginalize Representative George Santos even in the face of mounting allegations of misconduct and lies by the first-term New York Republican, has signaled that Mr. Santos will be allowed to continue to serve in Congress even after being indicted on federal charges.
“I’ll look at the charges,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday, before an indictment charging Mr. Santos with wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and lying to Congress was unsealed. “If a person is indicted, they’re not on committees. They have the right to vote, but they have to go to trial.”
Read the George Santos Indictment
Representative George Santos of New York was charged Wednesday by federal prosecutors with 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.
At least one more Republican member of the House has now joined the chorus calling for Santos’s resignation. Representative Tony Gonzales of Texas said on Twitter that Santos should “be immediately expelled from Congress and a special election initiated at the soonest possible date.”
Santos’s House campaign in 2020 got comparatively little attention, but he claimed in a financial disclosure that year that he had earned $55,000 a year working for a company called LinkBridge Investors. But prosecutors say he was only paid $27,555 in 2019 and that he did not report $25,403 he received while working in 2020 for Harbor City Capital, a Florida-based firm accused of being a Ponzi scheme.
Federal prosecutors have charged Representative George Santos of New York with 13 counts of money laundering, stealing public money, wire fraud and making false statements to Congress.
Prosecutors said the charges resulted from “fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations” designed to enrich Mr. Santos, mislead donors and win a seat in Congress as a Republican from Queens.
I just spoke to the chairman of the New York G.O.P., Ed Cox, who predicted local Republicans would defeat Santos if he does not resign. “He’s out, no matter how you do it, because we have a good party in Nassau County,” Cox said.
George Santos arrived at the courthouse in an uncharacteristically low-profile manner. He slipped past a scrum of several dozen reporters from local and national outlets. Many of the disappointed had waited for hours and expected Santos to make a spectacle. None of them saw him.
It is unclear whether he traveled in a private or a police vehicle. The car passed through a manned guard station with a retractable orange-and-white roadblock arm. He entered via a back door of the building and is now being processed on the third floor.
The charges leave some tantalizing questions unanswered, particularly about his second financial disclosure statement. For example, prosecutors say that he falsely certified that he earned $750,000 from his company, the Devolder Organization, and that he had received between $1 million and $5 million in dividends from Devolder. In the press release, prosecutors note: “These assertions were false. Santos had not received from the Devolder Organization the reported amounts of salary or dividends.”
In other words, we know prosecutors are digging into his personal wealth, and the source of that mysterious money he loaned to his campaign. That may take a bit more time to suss out.
Broadly, George Santos has been charged in three schemes outlined in the indictment:
First, a fraudulent political contribution solicitation scheme, in which prosecutors say Santos and an unnamed Queens-based political consultant induced donors to give money to an LLC he controlled. He then used the money for personal expenses, including to buy designer goods and to pay off personal debts.
Second, an unemployment insurance fraud scheme: Prosecutors say that in June 2020, in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Santos applied for government assistance in New York, even though he was at the time employed by a Florida-based investment firm and drew an annual salary of $120,000.
And, finally, the indictment says Santos misled the House of Representatives about his financial condition. In May 2020 – during his first, unsuccessful campaign – he is accused of overstating one source of income while failing to disclose his investment firm salary. And in September 2022, when he ran a second time, Santos is accused of including a number of falsehoods in his financial disclosure form.
Away from the prying eyes of reporters in a secure wing of the federal courthouse, Santos is getting the full perp treatment. Likely that includes fingerprinting, photographs and a preliminary interview. He will be arraigned at 1 p.m.
If Santos is convicted of the charges against him, he faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years on the top count, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York.
Santos has been charged with two counts of lying to the House of Representatives. Both charges are related to two financial disclosure forms he filed as a candidate. In the first, in 2020, prosecutors are accusing Santos of overstating the income he received in one job and failing to disclose his salary from another firm.
In the second charge, federal prosecutors have accused Santos of lying about earning a $750,000 salary and between $1 million and $5 million in dividends from his company, the Devolder Organization. They also say he falsely claimed to have a checking account that held between $100,000 and $250,000; and a savings account with deposits of between $1 and $5 million.
The indictment was handed up on Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Central Islip and filed under seal, the authorities said. Santos was arrested Wednesday shortly after 9 a.m. He will be arraigned this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, N.Y.
Santos is in custody in the federal courthouse. He was charged with 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.
Despite calls for his resignation, Santos will likely be allowed to remain in Congress while he fights the charges. “In America, you are innocent until proven guilty,” Speaker Kevin McCarthy said yesterday.
Bill Christeson drove from Washington, D.C., so that he can hold up a sign when George Santos arrives at the courthouse for his arrest. The sign says, “LIES.” Christeson, 69, said he had demonstrated at the arrests of several “Trumpers.”
But the challenge with Santos, he said, was news of his impending arrest broke so late last night that he did not have time to make a new sign. Instead, he had to recycle one he used for Steve Bannon.
Christeson described it as the best of several options. “I have a sign that says, ‘Justice delayed is justice denied,’” he said. “This isn’t that delayed.”
George Santos built his candidacy on the notion that he was the “full embodiment of the American dream” and was running to safeguard it for others.
His campaign biography amplified his storybook journey: He is the son of Brazilian immigrants, and the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat as a non-incumbent. By his account, he catapulted himself from a New York City public college to become a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor” with a family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties and an animal rescue charity that saved more than 2,500 dogs and cats.
Representative Mike Lawler of New York, who like Santos is a first-term Republican, said on CNN that he believed “Santos needs to go” and that “if he has any decency or dignity, he would.” Lawler has repeatedly called on Santos to resign over the last five months.
The news of Santos’s impending indictment caught some of his congressional staff off guard. He was taking meetings in Washington as recently as yesterday. Today, staff at his office there and in New York were told to stay home.
The Alfonse M. D’Amato courthouse in Central Islip is generally a sleepier place than the Eastern District Court’s home base in Brooklyn. But on Wednesday morning it was swarmed with live trucks, which one court insider said began arriving at about 1 a.m.
Santos is no stranger to being surrounded by cameras. He had a pack following his every move during his first week in Washington, and he was mobbed when he made an appearance last month outside former President Trump’s arraignment.
There is a sizable media scrum. Santos is expected to arrive soon. There is one vehicular entryway into this big court complex, surrounded by parking lot, landscaped lawn and budding trees. He’ll have a walk of about a block to get to the front door.
It’s a bright morning in Central Islip where news crews have gathered to await the surrender of Representative George Santos."