George Santos Pleads Not Guilty to Fraud and Theft Charges Calling Case a “Witch Hunt” | US News

Republican US Congressman George Santos described the case against him as a “witch hunt” as he pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds.

The 34-year-old US politician appeared in court in New York and pleaded not guilty to the 13 charges against him, about five hours after his arrest.

Prosecutors say he used campaign donations to buy designer clothes, lied about being a millionaire and collected unemployment benefits.

After leaving the court case, Santos said “it’s a witch hunt,” adding that he would clear his name and not resign and run for re-election.

He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Santos was charged with seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of materially making false statements in the House of Representatives.

The indictment accuses Santos of defrauding potential political supporters by laundering funds to pay for his personal expenses and illegally receiving unemployment benefits while employed.

He is also accused of making false statements to the House of Representatives regarding his assets, income and liabilities.

George Santos

He was released from custody on $500,000 (£396,000) bond.

Since being elected to Congress in November, Santos has been at the center of a web of extraordinary revelations and accusations covering everything from his heritage to jobs he simply never held.

Federal prosecutors have examined allegations of misrepresentation in Santos’ campaign documents.

Federal prosecutor Breon Peace said the prosecution was “seeking to hold Santos accountable for various alleged fraudulent schemes and blatant misrepresentations.”

“Taken together, the prosecution’s allegations accuse Santos of relying on repeated dishonesty and deception to get on the floor of Congress and enrich himself,” he added.

Santos has repeatedly defied calls to resign after details of his fictitious resume came to light. Shortly after his election win, a New York Times investigation uncovered a series of false claims he made on his CV about his personal and professional history.

He is accused of fabricating parts of his CV while he was running for Congress.

Among other claims, Santos said he is a graduate of New York University and Baruch College, despite neither institution having any record of his attendance. He claimed to have worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup which was false.

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Many of his fellow New York Republicans have called on him to resign after his history of inventing was exposed.

U.S. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said the allegations against Santos were “serious,” but added that “there is a presumption of innocence.”

Questions about Santos’ finances also surfaced.

In regulatory filings, Santos said he had loaned his campaign and related political action committees more than $750,000 (£594,000), but it was unclear how he would get to that kind of wealth so quickly after years of fighting to to pay the rent. and he faced multiple eviction proceedings.

In a financial disclosure form, Santos reportedly earning $750,000 a year plus dividends from a family business, the Devolder Organization. He later described that business as a broker for the sale of luxury items including yachts and planes.

The firm was formed in Florida shortly after Santos quit working as a salesman for a company accused by federal authorities of operating an illegal Ponzi scheme.


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