U.S. Representative George Santos (R-NY) at Central Islip Federal Courthouse Reuters / SHANNON STAPLETON

New York representative George Santos was indicted on 23 federal criminal charges including conspiracy, wire fraud, and defrauding campaign donors.

According to the Department of Justice, Santos, a federal Congressman representing the Third District of New York is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit offenses against the U.S., two counts of wire fraud, two counts of making materially false statements to the Federal Election Commission, two counts of falsification of records submitted to the FEC, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of access device fraud.

Santos had previously been charged with an additional seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Why all the charges?

According to the DOJ, these charges arose from alleged illegal monetary thefts and fraud done by Santos and his treasurer for his principal congressional campaign committee, Nancy Marks. It occurred during the 2022 election cycle when Santos, a U.S. House of Representatives candidate in New York's Third Congressional District, fraudulently obtained money for his campaign, according to the press release.

The purpose of these fraudulent funds was to mislead the Federal Election Commission, the national Republican Party committee and the public.

Santos needed to demonstrate that his congressional campaign had raised at least $250,000 from third-party contributors in a single quarter to qualify for a program from the party committee, which would provide financial and logistical support to Santos and his campaign.

The scheme to appear as if his campaign had more funds than it did allegedly occurred when Santos and Mark agreed to submit materially false reports to the FEC on behalf of the campaign, in which Santos and Marks inflated the campaign's fundraising numbers. Santos and Marks then allegedly agreed to falsely report to the FEC that at least ten family members of Santos and Marks had made significant financial contributions to the campaign when Santos and Marks knew that Santos family had neither made the reported contributions nor given authorization for their personal information to be included in such false public reports.

Another alleged instance of this scheme, according to the DOJ, occurred when Santos falsely reported to the FEC that he had loaned $500,000 of his own money to his campaign when, at the time, he did not have those funds. He did this because the national party committee verified eligibility for their support program through FEC data.

During December 2021 and August 2022, Santos and Marks procured the scheme to steal money from campaign contributor's credit cards. The extra money stolen on top of the original contribution from one contributor was falsely labeled as donations from his family. In another instance of wire fraud, Santos was said to have attempted to use a campaign contributor's credit card to charge $44,800. Allegedly, in another instance, Santos transferred $12,000 to his personal bank account using a different contributor's credit card information.

The case is scheduled for a status conference before Judge Seybert on Oct. 27, 2023. If convicted, Santos faces a mandatory minimum penalty of two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft counts and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the other counts, according to the DOJ press release. A Federal District Court judge will determine any additional sentencing.

The FBI is investigating the case with assistance from the Nassau County District Attorney's Office.

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