Embattled GOP Congressman George Santos Charged With Money Laundering, Theft, Fraud, Pleads Not Guilty

George Santos
Republican Congressman George Santos was swarmed by reporters Wednesday afternoon after he left federal court on New York's Long Island.Getty

Embattled GOP Congressman George Santos was charged Wednesday with a slew of federal crimes including fraud, theft, money laundering and lying to Congress. He pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Controversial Republican Rep. George Santos was arrested Wednesday on federal criminal charges including money laundering, fraud and stealing public funds in the latest blow to the freshman congressman who has refused demands for his resignation after lying about his resume.

Read the George Santos Indictment Here

Santos, 34, was charged in an indictment unsealed Wednesday with 13 criminal counts — 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.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges later in the day during a federal hearing on New York's Long Island. "I believe I am innocent," he told a large group of reporters who swarmed him as he left the courthouse. 

Santos was released from custody in lieu of $500,000 bail secured by three individuals, whose identities are not public. He was ordered to travel only from New York to Washington, D.C. and places in between. 

“I have to keep fighting to defend my innocence, and I’m going to do that," Santos said. "I will not resign."

Prosecutors told a much different story.

“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," said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace in a statement.

"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," the federal prosecutor said.

After his 2022 election to represent New York's Long Island, media reports appeared that documented how Santos had allegedly made up significant portions of his personal and professional history.

He told voters he was a wealthy Wall Street dealmaker who had worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and that he had been a star volleyball player in college. His mother, he said, had been killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. He also said he had attended Baruch College and New York University.

In reality, Santos did none of those things. He never worked for Goldman Sachs or Citigroup, he never attended college, and his mother died in 2016, it was later revealed.

Reached by The Associated Press on Tuesday after the indictment was filed, Santos said, “This is news to me. You’re the first to call me about this.”

Santos is under myriad investigations by federal and state agencies, as well as the House Ethics Committee. Despite widespread, bipartisan calls for his resignation and intense criticism from members of his own party, Santos has repeatedly said he will not step down.

Those calls were renewed on Wednesday as news spread of his arrest.

“Listen, George Santos should have resigned in December. George Santos should have resigned in January. George Santos should have resigned yesterday," said congressman Marc Molinaro, a Republican who represents upstate New York. "Perhaps he’ll resign today. But sooner or later, whether he chooses to or not, both the truth and justice will be delivered to him."

Republican Rep. Nick LaLota told Politico, “These charges bring us one step closer to never having to talk about this lying loser ever again."

But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, held back. “I think in America, you’re innocent till proven guilty," he said.

Santos is also under investigation after complaints surfaced that he had stolen money raised to help a veteran pay for surgery needed by his service dog.

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