(Bloomberg) — George Santos, the embattled Republican congressman charged by the US with fraud and money laundering, has secured three mystery guarantors for his $500,000 bond.
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At his May 10 arraignment, where Santos pleaded not guilty, US Magistrate Judge Anne Shields released the 34-year-old lawmaker but told him he would need three co-signers for the bond. Joseph Murray, a lawyer for Santos, told the court that he had identified two of the three but that none were present at the time. The US said it had approved of the two suretors the defense identified.
The representative from New York now has all three lined up, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because it isn’t public. All three guarantors recently have come to court to sign the bond, but their identities remain under seal, the person said.
That is a departure from typical federal court practice. Shields didn’t require Murray to identify the guarantors in open court on the day Santos was arraigned, as is usually done. Nor did they come forward when Santos was released, and advised of their responsibility to ensure his return to court, as is typically the case. No documentation about them has been posted on the public docket in federal court in Central Islip, New York.
Murray declined to comment on the guarantors.
The 13-count indictment against Santos accuses him of engaging in three schemes. Prosecutors allege he diverted political campaign donations to pay for personal expenses, claimed fraudulent unemployment benefits and made false financial disclosures to Congress.
Read More: Santos Pleads Not Guilty to Fraud, Defies Calls to Resign
The charges come at a precarious time for House Republicans, whose narrow edge in the chamber means they can’t have more than a handful of defections to pass most bills. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said after Santos was indicted that he wouldn’t support the freshman congressman’s re-election bid, though he stopped short of calling for his resignation. Santos has been seen as a loyal vote for the speaker.
“Santos has a lot going on,” McCarthy said at the time. “I think he has other things to focus on in his life than running for office.”
The House has since referred a resolution to expel Santos to its Ethics Committee.
‘You’re Not Getting That’
Santos faces as many as 20 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges of money laundering and wire fraud, the government says. Under federal sentencing guidelines, his term would probably be shorter. His next appearance was set for June 30 before US District Judge Joanna Seybert, a Bill Clinton appointee
The congressman told reporters outside the courthouse on the day of his arraignment that he wouldn’t disclose the bond guarantors.
“You see, that is information you’ll never get,” he said, because “your intention is to harass them and make their lives miserable. You’re not getting that.”
Santos and his congressional office didn’t return messages Wednesday seeking comment on the matter.
There is a high bar for the secrecy surrounding the guarantors.
In January FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried asked a federal judge in Manhattan not to disclose the identities of the two people who secured his bond, to protect them from public scrutiny and potential harassment. Instead, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan ordered the names released “for the limited purpose of asserting the public’s claimed right of access” to the identities. Kaplan said there was no danger of impairing law enforcement and that the privacy interests of the co-signers were limited.
Santos’s improbable rags-to-riches story rang alarm bells that led to the discovery of numerous falsehoods he purveyed, including that he had worked at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and graduated from Baruch College after playing on its championship volleyball team.
The case is US v. Santos, 23-cr-197, US District Court, Eastern District of New York (Central Islip).
–With assistance from Gregory Korte and Billy House.
(Adds details, quotes and context throughout, starting in second paragraph.)
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