An Explanation of the 13 Counts Against Congressman George Santos
Are you really surprised that a politician lied about something?
You might not be surprised that a fraudster was voted into Congress. I'm not. I'm more surprised that we haven't found out all the dirty laundry of every person in Congress. In the same thought, are we really surprised that George Santos has been indicted for ... wait for it ... more fraud?
* And why am I not saying "alleged" fraudster? Because he defrauded the nation by making up stuff on his resume.
Santos's Campaign Deception
Throughout his campaign, Santos bragged about his career: earning degree from Baruch College, studying at New York University, working at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. In December, the New York Times reported that none of these places had records of enrollment or employment. Santos confessed shortly thereafter that he had fabricated things on his resume, but he still intends to serve on Congress.
The Brazilian Check Fraud Scandal
We're not done with George Santos yet, in fact, we're just beginning to learn the extent of how much this dude is a scam artist. On Thursday, May 11, 2023, Santos reached an agreement with Brazilian prosecutors. He agreed to confess and pay approximately $5,000 in fines and restitution in exchange for the charges being dropped.
According to Brazilian prosecutors, he allegedly utilized a false identity and a stolen checkbook to acquire various goods, including sneakers, from a store in Niterói back in 2008. Although formal charges were filed against him in 2011, authorities lost track of Santos until he assumed the role of a U.S. congressman in 2022.
There might be more fraud scandals in there that I haven't seen. Tbh, I can't keep up with these politicians.
On May 10, 2023, the federal government charged George Santos with Fraud, Money Laundering, Theft of Public Funds, and False Statements. Congressman Santos pled not guilty to the charges, stating once again that he won't resign. Santos dubbed the charges as a "witch hunt," echoing President Trump's sentiments.
Santos's lawyer, Joseph Murray, was a bit more reserved, stating: "Any time the federal government comes after you it’s a serious case. We have to take this serious."
You can read the indictment here.
All of these counts reference Title 18, United States Code, 3551 et seq., which has to do with the sentencing guidelines for the crimes.
Counts 1 through 5:
Wire Fraud - Fraudulent Political Contribution Solicitation Scheme
Santos has been charged with three counts of email fraud and two counts of text message fraud, soliciting campaign funds, under Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343, 2 and 3551 et seq.
Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency (as those terms are defined in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122)), or affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.
Counts 6 through 8:
Unlawful Monetary Transactions Over $10,000
Santos has been charged with three counts of transferring these funds to another bank account, under (Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1957(a), 1957(b), 2 and 3551 et seq.
Whoever, in any of the circumstances set forth in subsection (d), knowingly engages or attempts to engage in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000 and is derived from specified unlawful activity, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
Section 1957(b) is about sentencing.
Theft of Public Money
Santos has been charged with one count of theft of government money, under Title 18, United States Code, Sections 641 and 3551 et seq., although the count didn't specify what money he stole.
Whoever embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use or the use of another, or without authority, sells, conveys or disposes of any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof, or any property made or being made under contract for the United States or any department or agency thereof; or
Whoever receives, conceals, or retains the same with intent to convert it to his use or gain, knowing it to have been embezzled, stolen, purloined or converted—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; but if the value of such property in the aggregate, combining amounts from all the counts for which the defendant is convicted in a single case, does not exceed the sum of $1,000, he shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
Note the $1,000 in this Section. Since Santos has been charged with two counts of unemployment, each of $564, that means it's over $1,000. Which means the maximum sentence is 10 years.
Counts 10 and 11:
However, if we go to these counts, Santos has been charged with two counts of unemployment fraud, under Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343, 2 and 3551 et seq. Each count was for $564.
Section 1343 is the same one, as above, used for the campaign money.
False Statements — 2020 House Disclosure Reports
Santos has been charged with falsifying his house disclosure reports. If you remember, Clarence Thomas recently got into some heat for not disclosing gifts. Well, the House has a similar financial disclosure. These counts are under Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1001(a)(2), (c)(1) and 3551 et seq.
(a)Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(2)makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(c)With respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch, subsection (a) shall apply only to—
(1)administrative matters, including a claim for payment, a matter related to the procurement of property or services, personnel or employment practices, or support services, or a document required by law, rule, or regulation to be submitted to the Congress or any office or officer within the legislative branch; or
These sections, taken together, mean making a false statement on your financial report to the House.
False Statements— 2022 House Disclosure Report
In the exact opposite of the above statement (he failed to disclose money he made), Santos has been charged in this count as reporting income that he did not make, under Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1001(a)(2), (c)(1) and 3551 et seq.
What Does This All Mean?
- Basically, the United States government is saying that Santos asked for campaign money, and instead, he bought himself luxury items like clothing. He asked for campaign donations, then transferred the money to his personal account.
- He also got unemployment benefits, twice, while he was making a bunch of money.
- He lied on his House financial disclosure forms, both by overstating and by understating what he made. He claimed to make $750,000 in a family business and $1 million and $5 million from dividends. I'm not really sure the purpose of overstating his income, other than he wanted to look like a mega-player.
A Little Bit About Crimen Falsi
Once a liar, always a liar? Crimen falsi is the idea that if you've been caught cheating, defrauding, stealing, or lying, then the finder of fact (the jury) is allowed to not believe anything you say. Your credibility is shot.
Rule 609(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Evidence allows the witness to be impeached for anyone who has been convicted of a crime that involved "dishonesty or false statement."
Remember that he pled guilty to check fraud in Brazil. I'm not a federal prosecutor, so I'm not sure if the United States can use this guilty plea as evidence against him. But I sure as hell think they will bring in the falsities on his resume.
I'm not saying that politicians are dirty ... but perhaps it's time to throw the baby out with the bath water with this one. That's assuming he still has something good left in him. We'll never know for sure, because George Santos seems to be a brand scam artist.
But tbh, why hasn't Congress thrown him out already? They are taking a "wait and see" approach. Yes, I understand that everyone is innocent until proven guilty ... but he has already admitted to being guilty of fraud.