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Explanation of the 13 federal counts New York Republican Rep. George Santos faces

May 10, 2023, 12:16 PM

FILE - Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., leaves a House GOP conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washing...

FILE - Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., leaves a House GOP conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 25, 2023. Santos has been arrested on federal criminal charges. The indictment says Santos induced supporters to donate to a company under the false pretense the money would be used to support his campaign. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A 13-count federal indictment unsealed Wednesday in New York accuses U.S. Rep. George Santos of embezzling money from his campaign, falsely receiving unemployment funds and lying to Congress about his finances.

In a news release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said the charges against the New York Republican include three counts of “money laundering,” though the indictment doesn’t use that specific phrasing.

The following are the counts Santos faces as they are described in the indictment, and the maximum sentences as spelled out in the U.S. criminal code:

COUNTS 1-5: “Wire Fraud — Fraudulent Political Contribution Solicitation Scheme”

Wire fraud refers to the use of telephones, email or other forms of communication to commit a crime. Such charges are common in a wide range of criminal cases, from drug trafficking to political corruption.

In Santos’ case, these counts relate to allegations that he hoodwinked donors into contributing money by telling them their contributions would be used for campaign ads when he actually spent it on himself, including to buy designer clothes and make credit card payments.

Potential sentence: Although the indictment does not include possible sentences, U.S. statutes say each wire fraud count carries a maximum 20-year prison term.

___

COUNTS 6-8: “Unlawful Monetary Transactions Over $10,000”

This count contains the allegation that in 2022, Santos illegally transferred a $25,000 campaign donation from one donor and a $24,000 donation from another to a bank account he controlled.

Potential sentence: Under the statute, the maximum sentences can range from a few years to decades in prison, depending on aggravating factors.

___

COUNT 9: “Theft of Public Money”

This charge alleges that in 2020 and 2021, Santos embezzled U.S. funds by falsely obtaining money set aside for unemployed people during the height of the pandemic, even thought he was being paid a substantial salary at the time.

Potential sentence: A conviction carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison.

___

COUNTS 10-11: “Wire Fraud — Fraudulent Application for and Receipt of Unemployment Benefit”

These counts also refer to the alleged scheme to obtain money earmarked to help Americans who lost work because of COVID-19. The count refers to two $564 checks that allegedly were wired to Santos.

Potential sentence: Each count carries a maximum prison term of 20 years.

___

COUNT 12: “False Statements — 2020 House Disclosure Reports”

Under this count, Santos is accused of lying on a 2020 House financial disclosure form, which requires legislators to give a complete account of their income and assets.

Potential sentence: A conviction carries a five-year prison term.

___

COUNT 13: “False Statements— 2022 House Disclosure Reports”

This count makes largely the same allegations as Count 12 but relates to alleged lying on his 2022 financial disclosure form.

Potential sentence: A conviction carries a five-year prison term.

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Explanation of the 13 federal counts New York Republican Rep. George Santos faces