U.S. Rep. George Santos is facing even more criminal counts in federal court, as prosecutors expand their wire fraud case against him.
The U.S. Attorney Breon Peace has added 10 more counts to the case he's building against the embattled congressman, adding to the 13 Santos was previously indicted on last May. Back then Santos was accused of wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and making materially false statements to the U.S. House of Representatives.
New charges include wire fraud, making materially false statements to the Federal Election Commission, falsifying records in an attempt to obstruct the FEC, aggravated identity theft, and access device fraud.
"As alleged, Santos is charged with stealing people's identities and making charges on his own donors' credit cards without their authorization, lying to the FEC — and, by extension, the public — about the financial state of his campaign," Peace said, in a release. "Santos false inflated the campaign's reported receipts with non-existent loans and contributions that were either fabricated or stolen."
Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly accused Santos of targeting family members to steal their identities, and then used the credit card information he obtained from political donors to "fraudulently inflate his campaign coffers."
Prosecutors allege Santos worked hand-in-hand with his treasurer Nancy Marks — who pleaded guilty to charges related to this case just last week — to inflate numbers submitted to the FEC so his campaign would qualify for additional financial and logistical support from the national Republican Party. To qualify for the program, prosecutors say Santos had to demonstrate his congressional campaign had raised at least $250,000 from third-party contributors in a single quarter.
To meet that threshold, prosecutors allege Santos and Marks claimed at least 10 members from both of their families had made significant financial contributions. In reality, however, prosecutors say those donations never happened.
Prosecutors also claim Santos lied about loaning his campaign significant amounts of money — during a period when he didn't have the funds necessary to make such loans. That included a claim Santos loaned his campaign $500,000 when he had less than $8,000 in his personal and business bank accounts.
On top of that, prosecutors claim Santos embarked on a scheme to steal the personal identity and financial information of those contributing to his campaign between December 2021 and August 2022. He then allegedly charged the credit cards repeatedly, without authorization. Money from these transactions not only went to his campaign, but to other candidates for elected office, prosecutors said, as well as to a personal bank account belonging to Santos.
In order to hide where the money came from, prosecutors allege Santos reported the contributions as coming from other people like relatives or associates, rather than the true cardholders. Prosecutors say Santos did not have permission to use these names.
Prosecutors provide a specific example where one contributor in late 2021 texted Santos to make a contribution, providing details of two credit cards. In the days that followed, Santos allegedly used the credit card information to make numerous contributions to his campaign and affiliated political committees in amounts that exceeded contribution limits — all without the donor's knowledge. Santos then claimed the money came from one of his relatives.
In all, from that one donor alone, prosecutors allege Santos attempted to make at least $44,800 in charges — including a $12,000 charge the congressional candidate then allegedly moved into his personal bank account.
Santos previously pleaded not guilty to the counts against him, and was released on $500,000 bond. He's due back in court in Central Islip on Oct. 27.