Republican New York Rep. George Santos pleaded not guilty to 13 federal charges during a Wednesday court appearance.
Santos was charged earlier in the day with 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, the Justice Department announced. He was released on a $500,000 bond and will make a second court appearance on June 30.
One charge says Santos committed unemployment fraud, getting $24,744 in jobless benefits when he actually had a job. (The indictment says it happened after Congress okayed an emergency COVID package in 2020.) pic.twitter.com/RCvPZfbHEi
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) May 10, 2023
Santos has repeatedly refused calls to resign his seat, although he voluntarily gave up his committee assignments in January. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy said earlier Wednesday that he would not call on Santos to resign his seat unless he is convicted of the charges against him. He noted the case of former Nebraska Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who resigned after being convicted of multiple campaign finance-related charges in 2o22.
“If a person is indicted, they’re not on committees. They have the right to vote, but they have to go to trial,” McCarthy said ahead of Santos’ arraignment. (RELATED: George Santos Arrested On Federal Criminal Charges)
According to the indictment, Santos illegally accepted unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic as he drew a salary from an investment firm. Santos also allegedly used a limited liability corporation to defraud campaign donors, instead taking the cash for personal use. Santos lied about his entire financial situation in filings made to the Clerk of the House of Representatives, according to the filing.
Santos admitted to fabricating whole swathes of his biography before taking office. He falsely claimed to have graduated from Baruch College, asserting that he was a volleyball star at the school. He also lied about being descended from Holocaust survivors, and inaccurately said that his mother died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Santos is also under investigation in Brazil for allegedly writing fraudulent checks.