Rep. George Santos Pleads Not Guilty to 13-Count Indictment, Says He Won’t Resign

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) pleaded not guilty on May 10 to charges that he defrauded donors, stole from his campaign, and lied to Congress about being a millionaire, all while collecting unemployment benefits for which he did not qualify.

Five hours after turning himself into authorities on Long Island to face charges of wire fraud, money laundering, misappropriation of public funds, and making false statements to Congress, Santos, 34, was released on a $500,000 bond following his arraignment.

If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

The 13-count federal indictment against Santos was a reckoning for a web of deception and deceit that, according to prosecutors, coincided with his public image as an affluent businessman.

Santos spoke little during his approximately 15-minute arraignment, and his attorney Joseph Murray requested the judge’s permission for Santos to travel freely for his campaign, despite the fact that he surrendered his passport.

Santos is slated to return to Washington on May 11 for congressional votes.

Republican leadership in the House of Representatives have reserved judgment on the issue when questioned by reporters.

“In regard to George Santos, he was already removed from all of his committees,” House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) said during May 10’s leadership press conference.

“There is a legal process. The charges just came out; we just saw some of them this morning. And so, in America, there is a presumption of innocence, but they’re serious charges. He’s going to have to go through the legal process.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did not say that Santos must leave the House of Representatives if he faces criminal charges from the Department of Justice.

“I’ll look at the charges,” McCarthy told reporters on May 9, during a press conference mainly focused on debt ceiling negotiations with President Joe Biden.

The first-term lawmaker said he would not abandon his reelection campaign, defying demands for his resignation.

Santos told reporters outside the courthouse that he is innocent and he plans to prove it in court.

“I will not resign,” he said.

“I’m gonna fight my battle, I’m gonna deliver, I’m gonna fight the witch hunt, I’m gonna take care of clearing my name and I look forward to doing that.”

According to the Department of Justice, Santos used a Limited Liability Company (LLC) to deceive potential political backers during his successful congressional campaign in September 2022.

Santos hired a New York political consultant to contact potential contributors and authorized them to mislead donors that their money would be utilized to assist in electing him to the House, including by buying TV ads, prosecutors said.

Two donors allegedly transferred $25,000 to that LLC’s bank account, which Santos controlled, based on these fraudulent assertions.

The indictment also alleges that Santos moved the cash into his personal bank accounts to launder them. Santos allegedly spent much of that money on himself, using it to buy fancy clothes, withdraw cash, pay off debts, and transfer money to acquaintances.

Prosecutors also allege Santos made a fraudulent June 2020 application for unemployment benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities Act.

Santos is alleged to have received unemployment insurance through the New York State Department of Labor by falsely claiming to have been unemployed in March 2020, benefits that he received through April 2021.

Santos’s office did not respond to The Epoch Times’s request for comment on the charges.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.