Judge grants request from Rep. Santos to extend radius around D.C. for allowable pretrial movement

 July 20, 2023

A federal judge just granted a request from criminally indicted Rep. George Santos (R-NY) to broaden the area in which he is permitted to move freely without prior notification to authorities, the Washington Examiner reported.

As a condition of his release on bail after being indicted in May, Santos was required to surrender his passport and was only allowed to move freely within Long Island, New York City, and Washington D.C., though he could travel outside of those designated areas if he first notified the government and Pretrial Services.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Anne Shields approved a request from Santos' attorney to extend a 30-mile radius around Washington D.C. as being included in the areas in which the congressman could move about without giving prior notice.

Request granted for broader area of permitted pretrial movement

The New York-based attorney for Santos, Joseph Murray, sent a brief letter to Magistrate Judge Shields on Wednesday that served as a motion seeking modifications of the conditions of his release -- namely "by extending the geographical area in which my client can travel, without providing advance notice to the government and pretrial services, to include a thirty-mile radius of the District of Columbia."

As part of the "good faith basis" for the request, the attorney noted that Rep. Santos had "voluntarily surrendered to law enforcement," pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing, and was released on a $500,000 bond that was co-signed by two financially responsible relatives, albeit with the restrictions on his travel without prior notice as a condition of that release.

"In light of the small geographical area of the District of Columbia, there is a frequent need to travel outside the District of Columbia for usual and customary functions of someone who lives and works in the District of Columbia, such as dining, shopping, meetings, events, and even use of the local airports," Murry wrote.

"This has resulted in unnecessary notifications which can easily be remedied by extending the geographical area in which my client can freely move about without providing prior notice, to include a thirty-mile radius around the District of Columbia," he added.

The attorney also noted that "Both the government and Pretrial Services have been consulted and have no objection to this request," and it would appear that Judge Shields had no objection either, as she reportedly granted the motion.

Charged with fraud, money laundering, theft, and false statements

It was on May 10 that it was announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace that Rep. Santos had been criminally indicted on 13 federal counts, which included seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making false statements to Congress.

Santos is accused of engaging in a "fraudulent political contributions solicitation scheme" in which he and an unnamed consultant allegedly requested money from donors on the false pretense that the funds would go toward his campaign when, as alleged, the money was instead diverted to a personal account for Santos and was used for personal purposes like buying clothes, withdrawing cash, paying down debts, and making payments to associates.

He is also alleged to have engaged in an "unemployment insurance fraud scheme" during the COVID pandemic in which he is accused of fraudulently claiming and receiving unemployment payments from New York totaling more than $24,000 while he allegedly was employed by a Florida-based investment firm.

On top of that, the New York congressman is further alleged to have made "false statements to the House of Representatives" by way of fraudulent or misleading disclosures about his financial situation, which included falsely overstating assets and income from one particular source while failing to disclose at all income from another source.

Santos disputes all charges

"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 used political contributions to line his pockets, unlawfully applied for unemployment benefits that should have gone to New Yorkers who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and lied to the House of Representatives," U.S. Attorney Peace said at the time of the indictment. "My Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively root out corruption and self-dealing from our community’s public institutions and hold public officials accountable to the constituents who elected them."

As noted, Santos has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him and, despite concerted opposition against him from Democrats, the media, and even some Republicans, he has refused to resign and instead is already running for re-election in the 2024 election.

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Thomas Jefferson
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