AP sources: US Rep. George Santos facing federal charges

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. Rep. George Santos, who faced outrage and mockery over a litany of fabrications about his heritage, education and professional pedigree, has been charged with federal criminal offenses, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

The charges against Santos, filed in the Eastern District of New York, remain under seal.

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The people could not publicly discuss specific details of the case until it is unsealed and spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity. The unsealing would happen when Santos appears in court, which could come as soon as Wednesday.

Reached on Tuesday, Santos said, “This is news to me.”

“You’re the first to call me about this,” he said in a brief phone interview.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment. The charges were first reported by CNN.

The New York Republican has admitted to lying about having Jewish ancestry, a Wall Street background, college degrees and a history as a star volleyball player. Serious questions about his finances also surfaced — including the source of what he claimed was a quickly amassed fortune despite recent financial problems, including evictions and owing thousands of dollars in back rent.

Santos has resisted calls to resign and recently announced he was running for reelection. He said his lies about his life story, which included telling people he had jobs at several global financial firms and a lavish real estate portfolio, were harmless embellishments of his resume.

Pressure on him to quit, though, has been intense. Reporters and members of the public hounded him.

He was mocked on social media and late-night television. Fellow New York Republicans demanded he resign, saying he had betrayed voters and his own party with his lies.

Nassau County prosecutors and the New York attorney general’s office had previously said they were looking into possible violations of the law.

Besides questions about his life story, Santos’ campaign spending stoked scrutiny because of unusual payments for travel, lodging and other items.

The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center lodged a complaint with the Federal Election Commission and urged regulators to investigate Santos. The “mountain of lies” Santos propagated during the campaign about his life story and qualifications, the center said, should prompt the commission to “thoroughly investigate what appear to be equally brazen lies about how his campaign raised and spent money.”

In his filings with the FEC, Santos initially said he loaned his campaign and related political action committees more than $750,000 — money he claimed came from a family company.

Yet, the wealth necessary to make those loans seems to have emerged from nowhere. In a financial disclosure statement filed with the clerk of the U.S. House in 2020, Santos said he had no assets and an annual income of $55,000.

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