George Santos arrested, decries 'witch hunt'

 May 11, 2023

Infamous Republican politician George Santos was arrested Wednesday and charged with fraud over various alleged financial crimes. 

Santos is accused of defrauding donors to his House campaign, stealing COVID-related unemployment funds, and lying on disclosure forms to Congress.

The flamboyant first-term congressman defiantly condemned the case as a "witch hunt" after pleading not guilty to 13 counts at a federal courthouse on Long Island.

George Santos arrested

The charges were brought by a Biden appointee, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace. He said the indictment "seeks to hold Santos accountable for various alleged fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations."

"Taken together, the allegations in the indictment charge Santos with relying on repeated dishonesty and deception to ascend to the halls of Congress and enrich himself," he said.

The indictment says Santos told supporters of his 2022 campaign to send money to a company, saying it would benefit his candidacy, when he actually used the money for personal expenses. Santos used the money to buy designer clothes and pay off credit cards, among other expenses.

Prosecutors also say Santos lied about being unemployed during the COVID pandemic to defraud public coffers of $24,000 while employed at an investment company, where he drew a salary of $120,000.

He is also accused of lying about his finances during his failed run for the House in 2020 and his successful one last year. Santos allegedly exaggerated his assets during his run last year, when he notoriously represented himself to voters as a Wall Street hot shot.

Santos defiant

The Republican has faced, and defied, constant pressure to resign since his campaign biography was found to have been largely a work of fiction.

He was released on $500,000 bond Wednesday and faces up to 20 years in prison.

"I'm going to fight the witch hunt. I'm going to take care of clearing my name and I look forward to doing that," he said.

The FBI said the arrest proves that the agency is "committed to holding all equally accountable under the law."

Separately, Santos reached a deal with Brazilian authorities Thursday to avoid prosecution in a fraud case dating to 2008.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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