Rep. George Santos pleads not guilty to new fraud, theft charges

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Representative George Santos, a Republican from New York, gestures to protestors and members of the media after exiting federal court in Central Islip, New York, US, on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. 

Cheney Orr | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Republican Rep. George Santos of New York on Friday pleaded not guilty to new criminal wire fraud and identity theft charges that were added to his ongoing federal theft and money laundering case.

Santos’ trial is scheduled for Sept. 9, 2024, a federal judge ruled at his brief arraignment hearing in U.S. District Court in Long Island.

Santos gave no comment to reporters outside the courthouse.

The 10 new felony counts accuse the embattled freshman lawmaker of submitting false campaign finance reports and charging his campaign donors’ credit cards without their permission.

Ahead of his plea, the 35-year-old Santos had repeated his promise not to resign from office. His trial is set to begin less than two months before he is expected to face voters in New York’s 3rd congressional district.

Santos has ignored a bipartisan group of state and federal lawmakers who have been calling on him to step down since before he was sworn into Congress in January.

On Thursday, Santos’ fellow House Republicans from New York moved to force a vote on whether to kick him out of Congress. But Republican Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, the newly elected speaker of the House, said in an interview last night that Santos deserves “due process,” after noting that the GOP holds a razor-thin majority in the chamber.

A lawyer for Santos declined CNBC’s request for comment.

Santos has admitted to lying about his employment and education history during his campaign, and has also since been linked to numerous other scandals. But he has denied criminal wrongdoing.

In May, federal prosecutors filed a 13-count indictment accusing Santos of defrauding supporters of his congressional campaign by soliciting contributions that he then used for his personal expenses, including designer clothes and credit card payments.

He was also charged with fraudulently obtaining more than $24,000 in unemployment benefits, and with reporting false income and asset data on congressional disclosure forms.

The new, superseding indictment filed Oct. 10 described two new criminal schemes.

“Santos is charged with stealing people’s identities and making charges on his own donors’ credit cards without their authorization, lying to the [Federal Election Commission] and, by extension, the public about the financial state of his campaign,” a U.S. attorney said in a press release announcing the new indictment. 

“Santos falsely inflated the campaign’s reported receipts with non-existent loans and contributions that were either fabricated or stolen,” the prosecutor added.

The superseding indictment followed the guilty plea of Santos’ former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks. She pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to conspiring with a congressional candidate to commit wire fraud, among other charges.

Marks is prominently featured in the latest charges against Santos.

In mid-May, Santos pleaded not guilty to the charges in his original indictment, the most serious of which carry 20-year maximum prison sentences.

In August, Samuel Miele, a former Santos fundraiser, was charged with impersonating a top aide to former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during phone calls with potential donors.

Miele’s attorneys are in negotiations with federal prosecutors about a possible plea deal.

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