Republican congressman arrested, charged with fraud, money laundering

New York, May 10 (EFE).- US congressman George Santos, a Republican from New York who is known to have fabricated aspects of his life history to aid his political fortunes, was arrested Wednesday on charges that include fraud and money laundering, the Justice Department said.

The indictment unsealed on Wednesday charges Santos with 13 counts: wire fraud (seven), money laundering (three), theft of public funds (one) and making materially false statements to the House of Representatives (two).

The Justice Department said that if found guilty Santos “faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the top counts.”

The 34-year-old Santos is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday afternoon at the Long Island Federal Courthouse in Central Islip, a hamlet in Suffolk County (Long Island).

The congressman was elected in November 2022 as the representative of New York state’s 3rd congressional district, which includes part of Long Island. Yet despite the accumulation of evidence against him, the Republican leadership of the House has not yet joined with Democrats to expel him.

In a Justice Department press release on Wednesday, Breon Peace, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said 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,” Peace added.

The New York Times first reported on the various fabrications that dotted his resume, including falsehoods pertaining to his family history, religion, education and other aspects of his personal life.

Santos himself has admitted to “embellishing” some of those details.

But continued media scrutiny has revealed suspected criminal conduct related to his use of campaign contributions.

Even so, although Republican officials in New York state have distanced themselves from Santos and called on him to resign, he has not faced the same pressure from his party at the national level.

The Republican Party holds a slim majority of seats in the House of Representatives (222 to 213) and is reluctant to see that lead narrowed any further.

But with the scandal-ridden lawmaker now in custody and facing more than a dozen federal charges, the GOP leadership in Washington may be forced to alter its stance. EFE


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