He lied to exhaustion. And this Wednesday he was arrested on 13 charges ranging from money laundering to theft of public funds. This is the story of New York Republican Congressman George Santos, who—at the height of his deception—went to say “the truth still matters.”
Famous for the tangle of falsehoods he concocted to be elected deputy, Santos was arrested and charged with thirteen charges, according to the Justice Department.
The thirteen charges have to do with crimes of fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and false testimony, according to the official document.
Santos was scheduled to appear this Wednesday afternoon before a federal judge in the district of Central Islip, in Suffolk County, eastern New York.
George Santos, charged with 13 counts. Photo: AP
The whole Santos case is hilarious. It is the story of an impostor and a mythomaniac.
Far from being punished by the widespread criticism, the ridicule on every prime-time TV show, and the rejection he received after admitting that he had made up many (too many) aspects of his life story, when Santos was elected he carried on happily in Congress. .
And he refused to resign. And he recently announced his plans to be re-elected.
“I was chosen by the people to come here to represent them, and I do it every day,” Santos told The Associated Press in a brief interview outside the House.
“It is hard work. If I said it was easy, I’d be lying to you, and I don’t think that’s what we want, right?”
Pressed on the idea of post-truth, Santos said: “I think the truth still matters a lot.”
Pressed on the idea of post-truth, Santos said: “I think the truth still matters a lot.” Photo: Reuters
The details of the charges will be known when Santos appears before the judge. Consulted on Tuesday, when rumors of his arrest were already spreading, he replied: “This is new to me.”
The New York Republican admitted to lying about having Jewish ancestry, a Wall Street background, college degrees and a past as a star volleyball player.
Serious questions were also raised about his finances, including the source of what he claimed was a fortune he quickly amassed despite recent financial troubles, including evictions and debts of thousands of dollars in back rent.
He said his lies about his life story, which included telling people he had jobs at various global financial firms and a lavish real estate portfolio, were harmless embellishments on his resume.
George Santos leaves the House of Representatives, last January. Photo: AP
The pressure to resign came from all sides.
Journalists and members of the public harassed him. He was mocked on social media and on late-night television. Fellow New York Republicans demanded his resignation, saying he had betrayed the voters and his own party with his lies.
Nassau County prosecutors and the New York attorney general’s office had previously said they were investigating possible violations of the law.
Adding to questions about his life story, Santos’ campaign spending has fueled scrutiny due to unusual payments for travel, lodging and other items.
“Enough of the lies, kick Santos out today,” reads billboards at the Capitol. Photo: Reuters
The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission and urged regulators to investigate Santos.
The “mountain of lies” that Santos spread during the campaign about his life story and his qualifications, the center said, should prompt the commission to “thoroughly investigate what appear to be similarly outright lies about how his campaign raised and spent money”.
In his filings with the FEC, Santos initially said he loaned his campaign and related political action committees more than $750,000, money he said came from a family business.
However, the wealth needed to make those loans seems to have come out of nowhere. In a financial disclosure statement filed with the clerk of the US House of Representatives in 2020, Santos said that he had no assets and that he had an annual income of $55,000.
An invented life and a mystery: Who is Santos?
Santos lost his first congressional race in 2020, but ran again in 2022, winning a district that lies in suburban Long Island and a small sliver of Queens.
A local newspaper, the North Shore Leader, had raised questions about Santos’ background before the election, but it wasn’t until a few weeks after the election that the depth of his duplicity became public.
The New York Times reported that the companies where Santos claimed to have worked, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, had no record of him having been employed. Baruch College, where Santos claimed to have earned a degree in finance and economics, said he had not been a student.
Beyond his resume, Santos concocted a life story that has also been disputed, including claims that his grandparents “fled Jewish persecution in the Ukraine, settled in Belgium, and again fled persecution during World War II.” .
During his campaign, he referred to himself as “a proud American Jew.”
Asked about that story, Santos, a Roman Catholic, said he never intended to claim Jewish heritage.
The Times also uncovered records in Brazil showing that Santos, when he was 19, was the subject of a criminal investigation there in 2008 over allegations that he used stolen checks to buy items at a clothing store in the nearby city of Niteroi. from Rio de Janeiro. janeiro. Brazilian authorities said they have reopened the case.