Republican Congressman George Santos was arrested in New York on federal charges of fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds.
The 34-year-old US politician has been charged with 13 counts, including 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, according to the Justice Department .
Santos, who has resisted calls for his resignation for lying on his resume, was arrested ahead of an awaited court hearing in New York.
He is due to appear in court at 1pm local time, where the charges against him will be read.
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.
The Justice Department said Santos could face up to 20 years in prison on the charges if convicted.
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.
Since being elected in November, Santos has been at center of a web of extraordinary revelations and accusations covering everything from his heritage to jobs he simply never held.
Shortly after his election win, a New York Times investigation uncovered a number of false claims he had made on his CV about his personal and professional history.
Click to subscribe to Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts
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.
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.”
Santos told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he was unaware of the allegations.
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.
Santos’ congressional office directed requests for comment to his attorney. A lawyer for Santos did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the allegation.