George Santos has been criminally accused of stealing the identities of his donors and using their credit cards to spend tens of thousands of dollars.
Prosecutors said some of that stolen money ended up in his own bank account.
The 23-count indictment replaces an indictment previously filed against the New York Republican accusing him of, among other things, embezzling money from his campaign and lying to Congress about his wealth.
Last week, his former campaign treasurer agreed to plead guilty to fraud.
The new indictment includes allegations that he charged his campaign more than $44,000 over a period of months using contributors’ cards without their knowledge.
In one case, the 35-year-old charged $12,000 to a contributor’s credit card and transferred the “vast majority” of that money to his personal bank account, prosecutors said.
George Santos, seen on September 29, now faces 23 federal charges: 10 more were added on Tuesday
Santos, a Republican representing New York, refuses to resign and insists he is the victim of a ‘witch hunt’
Santos is also accused of falsely reporting to the Federal Election Commission that he had loaned $500,000 to his campaign in an attempt to convince Republican Party officials that he was a serious candidate, when in fact he had less than $8,000 dollars in his personal accounts.
“As alleged, Santos is accused of stealing people’s identities and making charges on his own donors’ credit cards without their consent, lying to the FEC and, by extension, the public about the financial condition of his campaign,” said Breon Peace, USA. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Santos did not comment.
He has previously maintained his innocence and insisted he is the victim of a “witch hunt.”
The new charges increase the legal danger for Santos, who likely faces a lengthy prison sentence if convicted.
So far he has resisted all calls to resign, insisting he plans to seek re-election next year.
Santos’ personal and professional biography as a wealthy businessman quickly began to unravel after he won election to represent Long Island and Queens last year, exposing an intricate web of deceit.
In addition to lying to voters – about his prominent Wall Street background, Jewish heritage, academic and athletic achievements, animal rescue work, real estate ownership and more – Santos is accused of carrying out numerous fraud schemes designed to enrich himself and deceive his donors .
He was initially arrested in May on a 13-count federal indictment accusing him of using money intended for campaign costs for branded clothing and other personal expenses and unlawfully obtaining unemployment benefits intended for Americans affected by the pandemic lost their jobs.
Released on bail pending trial, Santos has described his litany of lies as victimless embellishments while blaming some of his financial improprieties on his former treasurer, Nancy Marks, who he claims went “rogue.”
Nancy Marks was treasurer for George Santos’ campaign
Breon Peace, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, is leading Santos’ prosecution
Last week, Marks, a longtime Long Island political accountant and close aide to Santos, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud. She told a judge that she helped her former boss mislead potential donors and Republican party officials by filing false campaign finance reports.
Tuesday’s indictment said Marks and Santos were involved in the same scheme to forge a $500,000 campaign loan to meet a benchmark that would earn additional support from a Republican Party committee.
Santos has now also been accused of recording fake donations from at least ten people, all relatives of him or Marks, as part of the same effort to make the campaign appear as if it was meeting fundraising goals.
Santos was not initially charged in the indictment against Marks, but was identified in court filings as a “co-conspirator.”
The new indictment alleges a multi-part fraud by Santos, who allegedly duped both his donors and his family members.
In one case, Santos allegedly stole the credit card information of one of his contributors, who had already donated $5,800 to the campaign, to give himself another $15,800 in payments, the indictment said.
Because the improper charges exceeded contribution limits under federal law, Santos listed the additional payments as coming from his own unwitting relatives, prosecutors allege.
Financial questions continue to swirl around Santos, who claimed to be wealthy but spent much of his adulthood bouncing between low-wage jobs and unemployment while fending off eviction cases and two separate criminal charges related to his use of bad checks.
Sam Miele, a separate fundraiser for Santos, was also previously indicted on federal charges that he posed as a high-ranking congressional aide while soliciting contributions for the Republican campaign.
Prosecutors said Miele, 27, posed as the former chief of staff to Kevin McCarthy, who was the House minority leader at the time, by setting up fake email addresses that resembled the staffer’s name .
Miele’s lawyer, Kevin Marino, previously predicted that his client would be acquitted at trial.
Santos was scheduled to return to court on October 27 on the original charges.