The 34-year-old Republican pleaded not guilty to all 13 federal charges when he was arraigned on Wednesday afternoon, May 10, in Central Islip, his 3rd district representing parts of Nassau County and Queens .

He is accused of:

  • Seven counts of wire fraud
  • three counts of money laundering
  • theft of public funds
  • Two counts of making false statements on federal disclosure forms

After he pleaded guilty, a judge ordered his release on $500,000 bond.

According to the unsealed indictment, Santos participated in three separate fraud schemes “relying on repeated dishonesty and deceit to get onto the halls of Congress and enrich himself.”

That included creating a sham company to solicit campaign contributions during his fall 2022 run for Congress, according to prosecutors.

Despite telling donors that the money would be used to get him elected to the House of Representatives, Santos has allegedly transferred the money into his personal bank account and used it to buy designer clothes and pay off debts, among other things.

Prosecutors also allege Santos illegally collected more than $24,000 in unemployment insurance benefits in New York during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite making $120,000 a year as a regional director at an investment firm in Florida.

He reportedly began receiving aid in June 2020 and April 2021, when he allegedly “falsely determined on a weekly basis that he was eligible for unemployment benefits when in fact he was not,” the indictment reads .

Finally, federal prosecutors accused Santos of lying to Congress about his finances during his two campaigns in 2020 and 2022.

Before each election, Santos allegedly filed financial disclosure statements with the House of Representatives in which he inflated his income and assets.

He is also accused of omitting the fact that in 2021, he received about $28,000 from an investment firm, as well as more than $28,000 in New York unemployment insurance benefits.

Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse on Wednesday, Santos called the criminal case a “witch hunt” in the style of former President Donald Trump and said he had “substantial evidence” to prove his innocence.

“I have the right to fight for my innocence because the government has the right to try to convict me,” he said.

Asked if he would resign his congressional seat, Santos said no and vowed again to seek re-election in 2024.

He also suggested that his legal battles could lead to a more lucrative deal in the future, telling reporters, “It’s an experience for a book or something like that.”

Santos is scheduled to appear in court again on Friday, June 30.

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