(Bloomberg) – George Santos, the embattled Republican congressman charged with fraud, will spend his summer vacation reviewing thousands of pages of evidence against him, his attorney told a federal judge.
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Santos, who is fighting both the criminal case and an effort to expel him from the U.S. House of Representatives, made his first appearance Friday before U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert in Central Islip, New York. He pleaded not guilty to a 13-count indictment alleging he engaged in a scheme to exploit campaign contributions for his personal expenses, among other crimes.
Prosecutor Ryan Harris told the judge the government had turned over more than 80,000 pages of evidence this week. Santos’ attorney, Joseph Murray, said he and his client would likely use the legislator’s congressional recess to review the documents.
Santos was dressed for his appearance, which lasted about five minutes, in a gray jacket, white shirt and coral tie. He is free on a $500,000 bond. Seybert, a Bill Clinton appointee, has set the next hearing for September 7.
After court, Santos faced protesters, including Richard Osthoff, a military veteran who claims Santos exploited his service dog Sapphire’s cancer to raise money on GoFundMe, then kept most of it for himself. -even. Santos denies it.
“You killed my dog, George!” Osthoff shouted as the lawmaker left.
Read more: Santos pleads not guilty to fraud, defies calls for resignation
Santos, 34, was accused last month of engaging in the campaign giving scheme, fraudulently receiving more than $24,000 in pandemic unemployment benefits and lying in House disclosures . He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges of wire fraud and money laundering, according to the government, although under federal sentencing guidelines, his sentence would likely be longer. short.
The case comes at a precarious time for House Republicans, whose narrow edge in the chamber means that to pass most bills they can’t have more than a handful of defections. The House Ethics Committee said in a statement this month that its investigative committee is “actively working to resolve this matter in a timely manner and has issued more than 30 subpoenas and more than 40 voluntary requests for ‘information’.
The committee said it had expanded its investigation to include the unemployment insurance allegations and was coordinating with the Justice Department to “mitigate the potential risks” of a double investigation.
Read more: George Santos’ father and aunt are the guarantors of his bond
Santos’ unlikely rags-to-riches story raised alarm bells that led to the discovery of many of the lies he spewed, including that he had worked at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and was a graduate of Baruch College. after playing on his championship volleyball team. The congressman said he may have embellished his resume but he never broke the law.
He was elected to Congress in November and was sworn in as a representative for New York’s 3rd congressional district in January. His district, which includes part of Queens and much of Nassau County, leans Democratic. If he is expelled or resigns, the Republican majority in the House would drop to nine votes and result in a special election to fill the seat through 2025.
The case is US v. Santos, 23-cr-197, US District Court, Eastern District of New York (Central Islip).
–With help from Gregory Korte.
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