Jun. 30, 2023 By Jake Offenhartz, AP
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) — Prosecutors said Friday that they have turned over more than 80,000 pages of materials to U.S. Rep. George Santos ’ lawyers in the federal fraud and money laundering case against him.
The documents weren’t publicly released, as is common during this stage of a case. The barely five-minute hearing at a Long Island courthouse focused on the case schedule, with the next court date set for Sept. 7.
Santos didn’t speak in court, nor to journalists waiting outside. The New York Republican, known for fabricating key parts his life story, is free awaiting trial.
Santos pleaded not guilty last month to charges that he duped donors, stole from his campaign, collected fraudulent unemployment benefits and lied to Congress about being a millionaire.
Prosecutors have charged Santos with 13 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and making false statements to Congress. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Taken together, the allegations suggest Santos relied on “repeated dishonesty and deception to ascend to the halls of Congress and enrich himself,” according to Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney for Long Island.
Santos has condemned the federal investigation as a “witch hunt,” vowing not only to remain in Congress but to seek reelection. Republican leaders have urged Santos not to run again but have deferred efforts to expel the freshman representative that could narrow their slim majority.
Federal prosecutors say Santos misused funds that he raised for his campaign on personal expenses, including designer clothes and credit cards.
He is also accused of lying about his finances on congressional disclosure forms and obtaining unemployment benefits while making $120,000 as regional director of an investment firm, which was later shut down over Security and Exchange Commission allegations that it was a Ponzi scheme. Santos wasn’t named in the SEC complaint and has said he was shocked by the allegations.
As part of his bond agreement, Santos must notify the court if he plans to travel outside of New York or Washington, D.C. He said he received permission to do so this week before flying to El Paso, Texas, where he called for increased border security and brushed off questions about the federal investigation.
“I might have my fair share of embroilments that the media seems to like,” he said in El Paso. “That’s fair, but I ran to get stuff done.”