Brazilian authorities revive fraud case against George Santos
“I am not a criminal here — not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world.”
By Grace Ashford and Andr Spigariol, New York Times Service
When Rep.-elect George Santos takes his seat in Congress on Tuesday, he will do so under the shadow of active investigations by federal and local prosecutors into potential criminal activity during his two congressional campaigns.
But an older criminal case may be more pressing: Brazilian law enforcement authorities intend to revive fraud charges against Santos, and will seek his formal response, prosecutors told The New York Times on Monday.
The matter, which stemmed from an incident in 2008 regarding a stolen checkbook, had been suspended for the better part of a decade because police were unable to locate him.
Nathaly Ducoulombier, a spokesperson for the Rio de Janeiro’s prosecutors office, said that with Santos’ “whereabouts identified,” a formal request will be made to the U.S. Justice Department to notify him of the charges, a necessary step after which the case will proceed with or without him.
The criminal case in Brazil was first disclosed in a Times investigation that uncovered broad discrepancies in his resume and questions about his financial dealings.
A month before his 20th birthday, Santos entered a small clothing store in the Brazilian city of Niterói, outside Rio de Janeiro. He spent nearly $700 using a stolen checkbook and a false name, court records show.
Santos admitted the fraud to the shop owner in August 2009, writing on Orkut, a popular social media website in Brazil, “I know I screwed up, but I want to pay.” In 2010, he and his mother told police that he had stolen the checkbook of a man his mother used to work for, and he used it to make fraudulent purchases.
A judge approved the charge in September 2011 and ordered Santos to respond to the case. But by October, he was already in the United States and working at Dish Network in College Point in the New York City borough of Queens, company records show.
Despite his earlier confessions, Santos has recently denied any criminal involvement, telling the New York Post, “I am not a criminal here — not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world.”
Joe Murray, a lawyer for Santos, said on Monday, “I am in the process of engaging local counsel to address this alleged complaint against my client.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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