George Santos accused of using donor money to buy luxury designer and pay off his credit card

George Santos wears a white button up shirt, a dark sweater vest and grey pinstripe jacket

Controversial Republican congressman George Santos is facing 13 federal crime charges in New York, including fraud where it’s alleged that he spent money supposedly for his House of Representatives candidacy on luxury designer clothing.

He faces seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one of theft of public funds and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives.

Santos is pleaded not guilty to fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds on Wednesday afternoon (10 May), after he surrendered himself and was arrested in the morning.

The full indictment in the case, released by Eastern District of New York Attorney’s Office, shows prosecutors allege he spent thousands of dollars solicited for his candidacy “on personal expenses, including luxury designer clothing and credit card payments”.

It is alleged that some of the money was solicited from supporters who gave money to a company (identified as Company #1) they believed was a social welfare organisation and supporting Santos’ election run, including paying for television adverts.

However, prosecutors claim the congressman “converted most of these funds to his own personal benefit”.

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According to the indictment, George Santos allegedly had a scheme to defraud, including directing a political consultant, identified only as Person #1, to get funds for Company #1 from prospective contributors via emails, texts, and phone calls – with the political consultant being falsely told about the nature of Company #1 and purpose of the contributions.

As a result, it is alleged “one or more individuals” made financial contributions larger than legally allowed.

The prosecutors claim two contributors each wired $25,000 (£19,800) to Company #1, which was then transferred to two of Santos’ personal accounts and spent “for his personal benefit”, which, it is claimed, included cash withdrawals, buying luxury designer clothes, paying personal debts, a car payment, credit card payments, and transfers to “personal associates”, and ultimately not on television adverts.

Separately in the indictment, it is alleged that Santos fraudulently received approximately $24,744 in unemployment insurance benefits “on or about and between March 22, 2020 and April 15, 2021” that were made available for “eligible individuals” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and fully government funded.

During this time, Santos received “regular deposits into his personal bank accounts” of approximately $120,000 (£95,000) per year as a regional director of a company identified as Investment Firm #1.

In a statement today, district attorney Breton Peace accused Santos of “repeated dishonesty and deception to ascend himself to the halls of Congress and enrich himself”.

Pearce went on to claim: “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.”

FBI assistant director-in-charge Michael Driscoll said George Santos “will now be forced to face the consequences” of his alleged activity, and he commended the investigative and prosecution teams for their work.

George Santos’ rocky run in Congress

George Santos was elected to Congress in 2022, representing New York’s 3rd district, becoming the first openly gay Republican elected to the Capitol.

During his campaign, he lied about his educational background, religion and work history.

He’s faced a number of other issues, including claiming his mother died because of the 9/11 attacks, a criminal fraud case in Brazil, and even issues around whether he was a drag queen named Kitara Ravache.

In addition, he faced accusations about stealing thousands of dollars raised on GoFundMe for his dying dog, which he denied.