U.S. Representative George Santos was arrested on federal charges, including fraud, money laundering, and theft of public funds, further damaging the reputation of the recently elected Republican. Santos has faced calls for resignation due to lying about his resume.
The 13-count indictment accuses Santos, 34, of defrauding potential political supporters by laundering money for personal expenses and unlawfully receiving unemployment benefits while employed. He is also charged with providing false statements to the House of Representatives about his financial status.
House Republicans, holding a slim 222-213 majority, stated they would wait for legal proceedings before taking further action against Santos. He is scheduled to appear at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York.
U.S. Attorney Breon Peace alleged that Santos used “repeated dishonesty and deception” to rise to Congress and enrich himself. Santos’s congressional office directed inquiries to his counsel, who has not yet responded to requests for comment.
Nine House Republicans have called for Santos’s resignation, six of whom are from his home state of New York. However, No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise said the caucus would withhold judgment, citing the American principle of “presumption of innocence.”
Following Santos’s 2022 election, the New York Times and other media outlets disclosed that he had fabricated most of his personal and professional history. Santos falsely claimed degrees from New York University and Baruch College, employment at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, Jewish heritage, and escaping Nazi persecution. He also hid a previous marriage to a woman. Santos has since confessed to fabricating much of his resume.
The House Ethics Committee began investigating Santos in March for allegations ranging from illegal campaign activities to violating federal conflict-of-interest laws. Several charges in the indictment align with the House panel’s investigation.
Prosecutors claim Santos laundered campaign donations for personal use, including luxury clothing and credit card payments, and repeatedly provided false information about his income. He also allegedly sought unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.