The Justice Department on Wednesday unsealed 13 federal indictments against Rep. George Santos – including fraud related to Covid-related unemployment benefits and use of campaign funds for luxury clothing – and the New York Republican are in custody.
Santos was charged with 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 House of Representatives.
Prosecutors alleged that Santos solicited campaign funds under false pretenses and used them for personal expenses such as designer clothes.
The indictment accuses Santos of running a “fraudulent political contribution solicitation scheme,” alleging that he set up a company and got supporters to contribute funds to it under the false pretense that the money will benefit his political campaign.
Prosecutors claimed that thousands of dollars instead went to Santos’ personal expenses, including luxury designer clothes and credit card payments.
Santos is accused of fraudulently applying for unemployment benefits, with the indictment alleging that he falsely claimed to be unemployed on an application for an unemployment insurance program related to the pandemic.
Although he admitted in the application that he had been unemployed since March 2020, according to prosecutors, he worked for an investment company and, as part of a $120,000 annual salary, said he received regular deposits – except for a period in July and August 2020.
He worked for the company between February 2020 and mid-April 2021, the indictment said. However, because of repeated false statements he allegedly made to the unemployment program, Santos also received $24,744 in benefits, according to prosecutors.
Santos was taken into custody in Melville, Long Island, where the FBI is based, a law enforcement source told CNN. From there, he was taken to the Central Islip courthouse.
He is expected to appear later Wednesday in federal court in the Eastern District of New York.
This story is breaking and will be updated.