Speed Reads

'He got off super cheap'

Congressman George Santos admits to theft in plea deal with Brazilian prosecutors

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) pleaded not guilty to 13 federal counts of fraud and other financial crimes on Wednesday and said he will not resign from Congress or end his re-election campaign. He was arraigned, released on $500,000 bond, and relieved off his passport. On Thursday, Santos signed a deal with Brazilian prosecutors — over videoconference — in which he confessed to theft and agreed to pay about $2,000 in fines and $2,800 in restitution in exchange for dropping the criminal case against him. 

The case in Brazil, which was revived when Santos' serial lies made him internationally famous, won't be dropped until the payments are received, court officials said. "He got off super cheap," Carlos Bruno Simões, the merchant Santos confessed to stealing from in 2008, told The Washington Post after Thursday's hearing. Santos bought clothes and shoes from Simões with $430 in bad checks in 2008. 

The U.S. charges are much more serious. Santos faces up to 20 years in prison , though "I think it would be between 24 and 48 months," former Connecticut federal prosecutor Chris Mattei told the Post. At the same time, the case against Santos is strong, he added. "I think he's in a lot of trouble."