Speed Reads

Sick Puppy

George Santos got out of puppy-related criminal theft charge by claiming to be an SEC agent, ex-friend says

The infamous Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) was charged with criminal theft in Pennsylvania's Amish Country for buying puppies with bad checks, but the 2017 charges were expunged in 2021 with the help of a lawyer friend, Politico reported Thursday, citing the lawyer, Tiffany Bogosian. Santos asked Bogosian for help after New York police served him as extradition warrant, she said, and she initially believed his claim that somebody had stolen his checkbook and forged his signature.  

Bogosian showed Politico, The Associated Press, and The New York Times a 2020 email she sent to Pennsylvania police explaining that the nine bad checks totaling $15,125 were from a checkbook somebody had stolen from Santos. A week after she sent the email. Santos went to Pennsylvania and convinced prosecutors there to drop the charges, claiming he "worked for the SEC," Bogosian recalled Santos telling her after he returned.

Santos, who has admitted lying about his résumé and much of his biography, never worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission. He did, however, have an unregistered purported pet charity, Friends of Pets United, that auctioned off puppies at the Staten Island pet store Pet Oasis three days after someone wrote a bad $775 check from Santos' account to a Pennsylvania dog breeder, with "puppy" written on the memo line.

Pet Oasis owner Daniel Avissato told the Times earlier this week that the adoption event was a success, but things got weird when Santos demanded he make the check with the proceeds out to Santos — he went by Anthony Devolder at the time — not his charity. Avissato refused and put Friends of Pets United on the check, he said, but "when it cashed, it was crossed out, and it had Anthony Devolder written on it."

Bogosian grew skeptical, too. "I did think it was so weird at the time that his checks didn't have his address or phone number listed on them," she told Politico. "I started having second thoughts, I thought, 'Oh, he had the animal adoptions.'"

"I should have never got involved," Bogosian told the Times. "He should have went to jail. And I wish nothing but bad things for him."

Santos is accused of forging checks in Brazil and keeping the money he raised to help dogs, including the dying dog of an injured veteran. You can read about other cases where Santos appears to have kept money raised for pets at The New York Times.