George Santos Pleads Not Guilty To 13 Federal Charges

The freshman congressman said he would not resign and that he had "plenty of evidence" to clear his name.

Rep. George Santos, the New York Republican who became the subject of ridicule for the extent to which he lied about his background, appeared in federal court Wednesday to be arraigned on 13 counts after turning himself in to authorities earlier in the day.

He pleaded not guilty, multiple outlets reported.

Santos, 34, was elected in November to represent portions of Long Island and Queens, but in the weeks and months afterward, a number of reports showed he was not exactly the wealthy young businessman he claimed to be. While he admitted in December certain details — that he attended two top colleges and worked at prestigious Wall Street firms — were false, he denied and even defended others while refusing calls to resign.

Santos entered the Long Island courtroom with a scowl, a New York Times reporter observed.

His lawyer, Joseph Murray, said that Santos plans to continue campaigning for reelection and asked that he be free to travel to do so, according to The Associated Press. He surrendered his passport and was released on a $500,000 bond.

Outside the courthouse, Santos asserted that he had “plenty of evidence” that would supposedly clear his name.

“The reality is, it’s a witch hunt,” Santos told a crowd of reporters angling for a comment. “Because it makes no sense that [after] four months, five months — I’m indicted.”

“I will not resign,” he said.

The charges against Santos span both his personal and public life.

Federal prosecutors allege that Santos pocketed $25,000 in donations to his campaign beginning in 2022, spending the money on luxury clothes, car payments and his credit cards instead of legitimate things like political ads. In 2020, Santos allegedly received pandemic-related unemployment benefits totaling more than $24,000 from the state of New York while earning a $120,000 salary from a company in Florida.

Prosecutors also say he lied when filling out financial disclosure forms needed to run for Congress ― both in his unsuccessful 2020 campaign and his successful 2022 campaign. Santos allegedly overstated his income and assets in the 2022 filing to the tune of millions.

The case against him is a product of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section and local agencies.

Authorities at the federal and local level promised to investigate Santos late last year amid public outcry over the new congressman’s apparent penchant for spinning yarns.

The list of Santos’ claims has become unwieldily and, in many instances, bizarre. He has said that he is Jewish (later amended to “Jew-ish”), that his mother was in the twin towers on 9/11, that several of his employees died in the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, and that he survived a brain tumor — among many other tales.

A former roommate, Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha, alleged in a sworn statement earlier this year that Santos was the ringleader of a credit card scheme in 2017 that led to Trelha serving jail time before being deported back to Brazil. (Santos denies the accusation.) The scheme is not mentioned in the federal indictment, but Politico reported in March that the case remains open.

In yet another instance of alleged fraud, Santos reportedly agreed to a deal with Brazilian prosecutors who say he wrote fraudulent checks in 2008. Part of the deal included a formal admission that Santos did the crime and would pay damages to the elderly man whose checkbook was taken, according to CNN.

In the U.S., however, Santos has denied that he is lawbreaker.

“I am not a criminal here — not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world. Absolutely not. That didn’t happen,” he told The New York Post in December.

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