Federal prosecutors have charged Representative George Santos of New York with 13 counts of money laundering, stealing public money, wire fraud and making false statements to Congress.
Prosecutors said the charges resulted from “fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations” designed to mislead donors, enrich Mr. Santos and win a seat in Congress as a Republican from Queens.
Here is an overview of the charges contained in the 20-page indictment, which was unsealed on Wednesday.
The bulk of the charges relate to what prosecutors said was a 2022 scheme in which Mr. Santos solicited at least $50,000 in donations from political donors for a fake super PAC and then pocketed the money for personal expenses, including luxury goods and designer clothing.
As part of that arrangement, prosecutors accused Mr. Santos of committing five counts of wire fraud when the candidate and an unnamed political consultant he directed told potential donors in emails and text messages that their contributions would “exclusively” support the Republican campaign and pay for TV ads.
Prosecutors did not identify the limited liability company, but said that it was not legally a super PAC. Two donors ultimately transferred $25,000 to the company, and Mr. Santos then transferred the funds to his personal bank accounts to help pay off debts and purchase goods for himself, they said.
The pattern laid out by prosecutors appeared to closely match one reported by The New York Times in January. The Times reported than Mr. Santos registered a company, RedStone Strategies, in November 2021, the same date noted in the indictment, and told donors it was an “independent expenditure” group, or super PAC.
Mr. Santos was also charged with three counts of money laundering in connection to the donor solicitation scheme.
Prosecutors charged the congressman with two more counts of wire fraud and one count of stealing public money in connection with what they said was another scheme to obtain unemployment benefits from New York beginning in June 2020. Mr. Santos was earning $120,000 a year through his employment at a Florida-based investment company, but prosecutors said he repeatedly told the state he had been unemployed since March 2020. He collected more than $24,000 in benefits.
Prosecutors further charged Mr. Santos with two counts of making false statements to the House of Representatives on personal financial disclosure reports.
In May 2020 — during his first, unsuccessful campaign for Congress — he is accused of overstating one source of income while failing to disclose his investment firm salary. And in September 2022, during his second congressional bid, Santos is accused of including a number of falsehoods in his financial disclosure form.
The charges leave some tantalizing questions unanswered. For example, prosecutors say that he falsely certified that he earned $750,000 from his company, the Devolder Organization, and that he had received between $1 million and $5 million in dividends from Devolder. In their news release, prosecutors note: “These assertions were false. Mr. Santos had not received from the Devolder Organization the reported amounts of salary or dividends.”