Rep. George Santos (RN.Y.) is in custody Wednesday after being indicted on 13 federal charges over accusations that he misled donors and misrepresented his finances to the public and government agencies.
The charges comprise 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.
He is in custody at the federal courthouse on Long Island, according to a spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Santos will be arranged at approximately 1 pm
The Hill reached out to Santos’s attorney for comment.
Santos’s surrender came one day after reports surfaced that federal prosecutors had filed criminal charges against the congressman.
If convicted of all the charges, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
“This indictment seeks to hold Santos accountable for various alleged fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations,” US Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. “Taken together, the allegations in the indictment charge Santos with relying on repeated dishonesty and deception to ascend to the halls of Congress and enrich himself. He used political contributions to line his pockets, unlawfully applied for unemployment benefits that should have gone to New Yorkers who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and lied to the House of Representatives.”
The New York Republican has been the subject of intense scrutiny since before he was sworn in amid questions about his resume and biography. A number of entities are said to be looking into him, in addition to the House Ethics Committee, which launched an investigation in March.
Several lawmakers from both parties have been calling for the congressman to resign, a number of whom reupped that stance after news surfaced of the charges against him.
Despite the indictment, however, Santos can remain in Congress and continue to represent his district.
According to House Rules, if a member is charged with criminal conduct as a felony that carries a sentence of two or more years in prison they should resign from committees and step aside from party leadership until legal proceedings result in an acquittal, are dismissed or if charges are reduced to less than a felony. Santos does not currently serve in House GOP leadership, and he stepped down from his committee assignments in January amid his growing controversy.
On Tuesday, amid reports that prosecutors filed charges against Santos, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — who has stopped short of calling on Santos to resign — said he would deal with the developing situation as he has with lawmakers who have been indicted in the past.
“We’ll just follow the same pattern we always have, right, if a person is indicted, they’re not on committees, they have the right to vote but they have to go to trial,” McCarthy told reporters during a press conference .
The 13 counts revolve around three schemes in which Santos is accused of misrepresenting his finances to the public and government agencies.
More than half of the charges — five wire fraud counts and three counts of money laundering — relate to allegations Santos directed an unnamed person to communicate with potential donors to falsely tell them their funds would be used to purchase television advertisements for Santos’s campaign.
But the donations were instead purportedly transferred to Santos’s personal bank accounts, and he used the funds for personal expenses, including purchasing designer clothing and discharging his personal debts, according to the indictment.
The indictment also alleges that Santos fraudulently received more than $24,000 in unemployment benefits after falsely claiming he was unemployed during the early months of the pandemic. Prosecutors charged Santos with theft of public money and an additional two counts of wire fraud.
The indictment further includes two counts of false statements to the House of Representatives over Santos’s financial disclosures in May 2020 and September 2022 during his congressional campaigns.
Santos is accused of failing to disclose various income sources while in other instances overstating the income he received. Santos also falsely represented the deposits he had in two bank accounts, according to the indictment.
Updated at 10:10am