Speed Reads

'a pack of lies'

Brazil revives fraud case against embattled U.S. GOP congressman-elect George Santos

George Santos will be sworn in Tuesday at the new Republican congressman representing New York's 3rd Congressional District despite admitting that much of his résumé and biography is a lie, a federal investigation into his finances, local inquiries into his multiple fabrications, and as of Monday, a criminal fraud investigation in his native Brazil, The New York Times reports

A Brazilian judge approved charges against Santos in 2011 after he admitted to using a stolen checkbook and a false name to make fraudulent purchases near Rio de Janeiro in 2008 — he wrote at least two stolen checks to buy about $1,300 worth of goods, The Wall Street Journal reports. That case was suspended because police could not locate Santos, who moved to New York in 2011, the Times reports, but the Rio de Janeiro prosecutor's office said the case has been reopened now that he has been located. 

Prosecutors in Rio will now formally ask Santos, 34, to respond to the charges via a "rogatory letter" sent through Brazil's Justice Ministry to the U.S. Justice Department, the Times reports. Santos can't be compelled to respond, but once he is notified, the case can proceed, and if "Santos does not present a defense in the Brazilian case, he will be tried in absentia." If found guilty, he could get up to five years in jail and a fine.

Santos has admitted to lying about graduating from college and working at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, acknowledged he owes thousands of dollars in unpaid rent, and has been shown to have lied about being Jewish and the child of Holocaust survivors, among other biographical details. But he recently told the New York Post he is "not a criminal here — not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world."

The federal investigation of Santos reportedly involves his sudden acquisition of wealth, the more than $700,000 he lent to his 2022 campaign, rent money he may have illegally paid to a company that shares his home address, and a series of other unusual campaign expenditures, including 37 recorded payments of $199.99, one penny below the level requiring a receipt under federal election law.

A handful of Republican officials have withdrawn support for Santos or called for him to resign. "It's clear that his whole biography is a pack of lies," Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, the highest-ranking GOP elected official in the 3rd District, told the Journal. "Obviously, we've all lost confidence in him."

But incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R), who is scrambling for votes to be elected speaker, has repeatedly dodged questions about Santos.