Out Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is being held in federal custody, and the Department of Justice has unsealed a 13-count criminal complaint against him. The charges include seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives, and one count of theft of public funds.
Santos was taken into custody in Melville on Long Island, CNN reports, before being taken to a courthouse in Central Islip. He is expected to appear in federal court later today. He skipped House votes yesterday as he went back to New York.
“This indictment seeks to hold Santos accountable for various alleged fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace 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.”
Santos’s attorney is not commenting.
Santos, the first out gay Republican elected to Congress, came under fire almost immediately after he was elected as multiple news reports found that he had fabricated large swaths of his life story, including his education, his work history, and his family history.
Many people also came forward with accusations related to theft and fraud, saying that Santos stole money from roommates, from people with sick pets, and even through an ATM scam. He faces several investigations for campaign finance misdeeds in the House.
Some of the charges come from an LLC that Santos controlled and that he encouraged donors to give money to. He allegedly used the money for personal expenses, including “luxury designer clothing,” according to the indictment. He allegedly told a consultant to tell donors that the money would be used for independent expenditures to support his candidacy and that the LLC was either a social welfare organization or an independent expenditure committee.
Some of the charges are related to Santos’s application for unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, even though he was employed at a Florida-based investment firm and earning a $120,000 salary. He allegedly received $24,744 in unemployment benefits during that time.
Last, there are charges related to his overstatement of one source of income while not disclosing his investment firm income on his 2020 campaign finance forms, as well as several other lies on his 2022 campaign finance disclosure forms.
Santos, who is usually active on social media, has not posted about his arrest. His last tweet was published yesterday, and he accused Nassau County, New York leaders of corruption.
“Nassau county’s corruption runs deep & it’s a big bipartisan uniparty!” he wrote. “I hold their joint hatred like a badge of honor!”