U.S. Rep. George Santos must reveal who helped him post a $500,000 surety bond to stay out of jail in his fraud and money laundering case. But the judge hearing his criminal case on Long Island has held off enforcing that order for now, so that Santos can appeal.
Magistrate Judge Anne Shields issued the order Tuesday, according to court documents, with a deadline of noon Friday to file an appeal in an attempt to ultimately block her order.
Media outlets have petitioned the court asking for the names of the people who helped Santos meet the requirements for the surety bond. Santos himself was opposed to the release of those names, with his lawyer arguing the congressman would rather go to jail than have the names revealed, according to the Associated Press.
Joseph Murray, who represents Santos in the criminal case, told the judge yesterday he feared for the safety of those who signed for the congressman's surety bond. The $500,000 amount was set May 10 when Santos pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and making false statements, related to his two campaigns for congress in 2020 and 2022.
Murray also asked the judge if she was planning to release the names, if they could be given time to have any of the suretors withdraw before their identities were revealed. Besides safety concerns, Murray also expressed reservations those who backed Santos financially with the court could face retaliation in the workplace.
Santos has continued to serve in Congress since his indictment, and vows not only to serve out his term, but even to run for re-election. Republicans blocked Democratic efforts shortly after his indictment to expel Santos from the House, instead referring the matter to the House Ethics Committee, which had already been investigating the congressman.
Santos has denied the charges, calling the prosecution a political "witch hunt."