Santos Indicted for Fake-Donor Scheme Exposed by Mother Jones

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The GOP congressman was charged with 10 counts related to campaign finance violations and fraud.

On Tuesday evening, federal prosecutors charged already-indicted and disgraced Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) with several new crimes, including campaign finance violations for a fake-donor scheme exposed by Mother Jones earlier this year. These new counts added to the preexisting indictment also include wire fraud and identity theft. The feds claim that Santos used his donors’ credit cards to make unauthorized transactions that ended up transferring funds to his own campaign, the campaigns of other candidates, and his own bank account. 

“Santos allegedly led multiple additional fraudulent criminal schemes, lying to the American public in the process,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office James Smith.

Earlier this year, Mother Jones broke the news that Santos had reported receiving what appeared to be fake donations during his 2020 and 2022 congressional campaigns—a straightforward violation of federal campaign finance laws. His former treasurer, Nancy Marks, confirmed Mother Jones’ reporting by pleading guilty last week to having helped Santos pull off this scam in order to falsely inflate his campaign’s fundraising totals. Marks is facing a recommended prison sentence of up to four years. In May, Santos pleaded not guilty to 13 other charges.

After the New York Times revealed in December that the newly elected congressman had made up much of his résumé, the list of lies that he had told about his career and personal history continued to expand. Santos falsely claimed that he wrecked his knees playing on a college volleyball team that “slayed” Harvard and Yale; that he had helped produce Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, a musical that lost tens of millions of dollars; that he was Jewish and that his ancestors had fled the Holocaust; that four of his employees died in the Pulse nightclub shooting; and that the attacks on 9/11 had taken his mother’s life.

These fabrications, while notable, were not criminal. Lying on a campaign finance report, however, is. When we examined Santos’ campaign finances from his first run for office in 2020, we found that many of his top-dollar donors did not seem to exist. For example, Victoria and Jonathan Regor were each recorded on his campaign’s filings with the Federal Election Commission as having donated the legal maximum of $2,800 in the general election. Public records, though, showed nobody named Victoria Regor or Jonathan Regor anywhere in the United States, and the New Jersey address listed for them did not exist.


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In another case, a retiree named Stephen Berger was listed as living on Brandt Road in Brawley, California. Public records showed that William Brandt was the real resident of that address. A spokesperson for Brandt told us that Brandt had never donated to Santos, that no one named Stephen Berger had ever lived at the address, and that he did not know anyone by that name.

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