Eastern District of New York | Congressman Jorge Santos was charged with fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and false statements

CENTRAL ISLIP, NY – A 13-count indictment charging George Anthony DeWalter Santos, aka “George Santos,” was unsealed today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. York, seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives.

The indictment was returned under seal yesterday by a federal grand jury sitting in Central Islip, New York. Santos was arrested this morning and will be arraigned this afternoon in federal court in Central Islip, New York before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay will be arraigned.

Brion Pease, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Kenneth A. Polit, Jr. and Federal Bureau of Investigation Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll, New York Field Office (FBI), and Anne T. Donnelly, District Attorney, Nassau County, announced the charges.

“This indictment seeks to hold Santos accountable for various fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations,” United States Attorney Pease said. “Taken together, the charges in the indictment accuse Santos of repeatedly relying on dishonesty and deception to enrich himself in the halls of Congress. He used political contributions to line his pockets, illegally applied for unemployment benefits that should have gone to New Yorkers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and lied to the House of Representatives. My office and our law enforcement partners will aggressively root out corruption and self-dealing from our community’s public institutions and hold public officials accountable to the constituencies that elect them.

“The Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Unit is committed to rooting out fraud and corruption, particularly when committed by elected officials,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. said Polit, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Santos, as charged, engaged in criminal activity with the intent to deceive and defraud the American people. The Department of Justice will hold accountable anyone who engages in such criminal activity to reflect this charge.

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“As today’s enforcement action demonstrates, the FBI is committed to holding everyone equally accountable under the law. As we allege, Congressman Santos committed federal crimes, and he will now be forced to face the consequences of his actions. I want to commend the investigative and prosecutorial teams for their diligence in this matter,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.

“At the height of the pandemic in 2020, Jorge Santos applied for and received unemployment benefits while working for Congress,” District Attorney Donnelly said. “As alleged in the indictment, the defendant’s conduct involved his second term in Congress, pocketing campaign contributions, and using the money to pay personal debts and buy designer clothing. The indictment is the result of a long-standing collaboration between law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is dedicated to rooting out public corruption,” the indictment said. I thank our partners at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

With the assistance of the US Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General, New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL) and the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, Mr. Pease thanked him.

According to the indictment, Santos, who was elected to Congress last November and was sworn in as a U.S. representative for New York’s third congressional district on January 7, 2023, engaged in several fraudulent schemes.

Fraudulent political contribution solicitation scheme

Beginning in September 2022, during his successful campaign for Congress, Santos operated a limited liability company (Company #1) through which he allegedly defrauded prospective political supporters. Santos enlisted a Queens-based political consultant (Person #1) to communicate with prospective donors on Santos’ behalf. Santos allegedly instructed Person #1 to lie to donors that, among other things, their money would be used to elect Santos to the House, including buying television ads. Relying on these false statements, two donors (Contributor #1 and Contributor #2) transferred $25,000 each to Organization #1’s bank account, which Santos controlled.

As the indictment alleges, shortly after the money was received in Company #1’s bank account, the money was transferred to Santos’ personal bank accounts—in one case through two of Santos’ personal accounts. Santos reportedly used most of that money for personal expenses. Among other things, Santos used the funds to make personal purchases (including designer clothing), withdraw cash, pay off personal loans and transfer money to his associates.

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Unemployment Insurance Fraud Scheme

Beginning in approximately February 2020, Santos worked as a regional director for an investment firm (Investment Firm #1) based in Florida, where he earned an annual salary of approximately $120,000. In late March 2020, in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, new legislation was signed into law providing additional federal funding to help Americans who are out of work during the pandemic.

In mid-June 2020, Santos applied for government assistance through the New York State Department of Labor, falsely claiming that he had been unemployed since March 2020, even though he was employed and not eligible for unemployment benefits. From then until April 2021—while Santos was working and getting paid, he falsely asserted every week that he was eligible for unemployment benefits when he ran unsuccessfully for Congress. As a result, Santos allegedly embezzled more than $24,000 in unemployment insurance benefits.

False statements to the House of Representatives

Finally, Santos describes efforts to mislead the House of Representatives and the public about his financial status in connection with his two congressional campaigns.

Santos, like all candidates for the House, was legally required to file a financial disclosure statement (House Disclosures) with the Clerk of the House of Representatives before each election. In each of his House Disclosures, Santos personally had to provide a full and complete account of his assets, income and liabilities. He has certified that his household disclosures are true, complete and correct.

In May 2020, in connection with his first campaign for House election, Santos filed two House disclosures in which he falsely certified that his only income during the reporting period was salary, commissions and bonuses totaling $55,000. Company (Company #2), and the only compensation he received beyond $5,000 from a single source was an unspecified commission bonus from Company #2. In fact, Santos allegedly overstated the income he received from Firm #2 and failed to disclose the salary he received from Investment Firm #1.

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In September 2022, in connection with his second campaign for House elections, Santos filed another House disclosure in which he allegedly overstated his income and assets. In this House disclosure, he falsely testified during the reporting period:

  • He earned $750,000 in salary from Florida-based firm Devolter Organization LLC.
  • He received dividends between $1,000,001 and $5,000,000 from Devolter Organization LLC;
  • had a checking account with deposits between $100,001 and $250,000; And
  • He had a savings account with deposits ranging from $1,000,001 to $5,000,000.

As stated in the indictment, these statements were false: Santos did not receive salaries or dividends from Devolter Organization LLC and did not maintain checking or savings accounts with deposits in the reported amounts. Also, in 2021, Santos allegedly failed to disclose that he received approximately $28,000 in income from Investment Company #1 and more than $20,000 in unemployment insurance benefits from the NYS DOL.

The charges in the indictment are mere allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If convicted of the charges, Santos faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI is investigating the case with assistance from the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and IRS-Criminal Investigations.

The case is being prosecuted by the Public Integrity Unit of the Government Prosecution Office, the Long Island Criminal Unit and the Public Integrity Unit of the Criminal Division. Help America Lawyer Ryan Harris, Anthony Bagnuola, and Laura Zuckerweiss are prosecuting the case, along with trial attorneys Jolie Porter and Jacob Steiner, assisted by legal expert Rachel Friedman. Senior Prosecutor Victor R. of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. Salgado made substantial contributions to the prosecution.

The Defendant:

George Anthony DeWalter Santos
Age: 34
Washington, District of Columbia

EDNY DOCKET NO. 23-CR-197

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