A month after announcing his intention to run for Congress in 2020, George Santos asked an old lawyer friend for help. Police in Pennsylvania are looking for him on burglary charges, but it’s all a matter of confusion. Can she help clear things up?
She agreed, then recalled that the allegation was eventually dismissed and subsequently dropped.
But the circumstances of the case – which focus on bad checks and puppies – are closely related to other suspicious episodes in Mr. Santos’ history that emerged in the months after he was elected in 2014. House of Representatives in November. And Mr. Santos’s friend now questions whether she unwittingly helped him get away with the crime.
Friend Tiffany Bogosian said: “I should never have joined. “He should have gone to jail. And I wish nothing but bad things for him.”
The allegation involved nine checks totaling $15,125 from Santos’ account, according to an email Bogosian sent to Pennsylvania authorities. On the memo lines of the six checks, the purpose is listed as “puppy” or “puppy”. At that time, Mr. Santos was running a group called Friends of Pets Unitedwhich he has described as an animal rescue charity.
Mr. Santos was charged after checks – at least one of which were sent to a dog breeder in Bird-in-Hand, in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish Country – bounced, according to reports. politicsthe first place to report the incident.
Days later, Politico reported, his charity held an adoption event at a pet store on Staten Island.
Ms. Bogosian, a New York City attorney, agreed to email the Pennsylvania State Police. She said in an interview that Mr. Santos told her that his checkbook had been stolen; The case was finally dropped, she said.
The disclosure that Mr. Santos was criminally charged in 2017 came when Federal investigators are looking into him animal charity. Mr. Santos ran the charity from 2015 to 2018, which he claims helped get 2,500 dogs adopted.
Mr. Santos, a Republican representative from Long Island and Queens, is also facing criminal and ethics investigations after it was discovered that he had falsified his background and qualifications in the past. election campaign. Prosecutors in Brazil have also revived a criminal case against him there related to check fraud.
Mr. Santos’ attorney, Joe Murray, declined to comment.
According to Politico, Mr. Santos was charged in York County, Pa., in November 2017 with theft fraud, but the record was deleted in November 2021 — leaving no trace of the incident on file. state or county court.
Kyle King, a representative for the York district attorney’s office, said the office has no record of Mr. Santos “in our prosecution database,” including other names he sometimes uses. use in their personal and professional lives.
Mr. King would not say whether the database contained Mr. Santos’ records or if his case had been deleted, only saying that the district attorney’s office could not “confirm or deny the existence of any any documents have been deleted”.
Ms. Bogosian said Mr. Santos told her he didn’t write checks, and only learned of the allegation after he discovered that police in New York had an arrest warrant for him.
In her email, Ms Bogosian said Mr Santos was a “victim of fraud”, pointing out that the signatures on each check were different and none matched the signature on Mr. Santos’ driver’s license.
It is not the first time Mr. Santos has claimed to have been the victim of a robbery: Court records show that in 2016 he told a judge in an eviction case that his rent was late because he was robbed on the way to pay. . In a 2022 interview with a Brazilian podcast first report by the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, he said he was robbed in the middle of Fifth Avenue and had his shoes taken off his feet.
Mr. Santos has also faced scrutiny over how he handles fundraisers for Friends of Pets United.
One veteran, Rich Osthoff, has said he never received the $3,000 Mr Santos donated on GoFundMe so his dog Osthoff could have life-saving surgery. One New Jersey rancher said Mr. Santos had never given her any proceeds from an event the charity organized on her behalf.
And even as Mr. Santos told people Friends of Pets United was running a tax-exempt nonprofit, the Internal Revenue Service and officials in New York and New Jersey said he was not registered with them.
The owner of the Staten Island pet store, who has hosted a number of Mr. Santos’ charity adoption events, also raised questions about how he handled checks. After one such gathering, at Pet Oasis on Staten Island, Mr. Santos asked the owner, Daniel Avissato, to write a donation check for him, according to Mr. Avissato.
Mr. Avissato instead sent the check to Friends of Pets United but later looked at his bank records and found that the check had been altered to be recorded as Mr. Santos had requested.
Court records show Mr. Santos also has a history of writing bad checks. In 2008, just before his 20th birthday, Mr. Santos spent nearly $700 at a store in Brazil using a stolen checkbook and a fake name.
Mr. Santos admitted fraud to the store owner in August 2009 in a social media message. The following year, he and his mother told authorities that Mr. Santos had taken the checkbook of a man his mother was working for, then used it to make fraudulent purchases. Brazilian authorities have said they intend to restore the case against Mr. Santos.