The 13-count criminal indictment against U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) was unsealed Wednesday, revealing a broad set of allegations against the freshman congressman.
The 22-page indictment, on which Santos will be arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Central Islip on Long Island, outlined accusations of serious crimes, including violations of campaign finance laws as well as wire fraud, fraudulent application for unemployment benefits and other offenses, federal prosecutors say.
Luxury designer clothing
Santos is accused of working with an unnamed individual referred to as “Person #1” to solicit campaign contributions in October 2022 that he then used for his own personal expenditures, prosecutors said.
Person #1 solicited the contributions, telling potential donors that they were giving money to an independent political action committee or a social welfare organization, allowing them to contribute more than the $2,900 limit per candidate, prosecutors said.
At least two contributors gave $25,000 each after they were told the money would be spent on campaign ads, prosecutors said. Instead, Santos moved the money to accounts he controlled, including a personal bank account, according to the indictment.
He then used that money on the purchase of “luxury designer clothing,” prosecutors said, not specifying what brand Santos bought.
Santos also used the $50,000 to pay off credit cards and make car payments as well as to make cash withdrawals, prosecutors said.
“These contributions … were not spent on television advertisements or other independent expenditures in support of [Santos’] candidacy for the House,” the grand jury charged in the indictment.
Prosecutors claim that almost as soon as the pandemic hit and hordes of New Yorkers lost work and applied for unemployment benefits, Santos fraudulently posed as being out of work to receive thousands of dollars in benefits.
In reality, prosecutors allege, Santos was employed for nearly the whole period he was claiming to be unemployed, working as a regional director for an investment firm that paid him a yearly salary of $120,000.
Santos is accused of exploiting the country’s pandemic relief program known as the CARES Act, saying he was unemployed on March 27, 2020, up until April 2021, and collecting almost $25,000 in federal unemployment benefits, prosecutors said.
“Based on a false application and false weekly certifications to the [New York State Department of Labor], [Santos] received approximately $24,744 in unemployment insurance benefits,” the indictment alleges.
False House disclosure forms
Santos is also accused of lying on his House disclosure reports in 2020, when he first ran for Congress, and again in 2022.
Prosecutors say that Santos claimed in the 2020 disclosure report that he earned $55,000 from “Company #2,” when he had actually received only $27,555, along with $25,403 he earned working for an investment firm, which he failed to report.
In 2022, Santos again filed a false report, claiming salaries and dividends he had not made, prosecutors said.