Sam Miele, a former campaign fundraiser for Santos, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of wire fraud
Sam Miele, a former campaign fundraiser for Santos, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of wire fraud, admitting to impersonating a House staffer in an effort to fundraise for the New York Republican.
Miele reportedly reached a plea agreement with prosecutors, though the terms of that deal have not been made public.
Miele's guilty plea comes weeks after a former campaign treasurer for Santos, Nancy Marks, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to conspiring with a Congressional candidate to defraud.
According to a release by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York, Marks pleaded guilty to conspiring with a congressional candidate to: commit wire fraud; make materially false statements; obstruct the administration of the Federal Election Commission; and commit aggravated identity theft.
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Almost immediately after the Republican newcomer was elected to the House in November, his reputation crumbled when numerous reports emerged about apparent lies he had told on the campaign trail regarding his past, alleged fraud he had committed over the course of several years and even an allegation of sexual harassment.
The bombshell allegations sparked bipartisan backlash and prompted investigations by the House Ethics Committee, Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, Nassau County District Attorney's Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In May, Santos was arrested and indicted on 13 criminal counts alleging fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and making false statements; in October, prosecutors announced they had added 10 new charges to the indictment, bringing the total number of criminal counts against him to 23.
The freshman congressman also allegedly stole people’s identities and then charged his donors’ credit cards without their authorization, often for personal gain. Additionally, prosecutors allege Santos falsified records, created and submitted false campaign reports that listed non-existent loans, and fabricated and stole campaign contributions.
If Santos is convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Despite the mounting controversies — which include dramatically "embellishing" his resume, misleading voters about his heritage, allegedly scamming a veteran out of $3,000 meant for his dog's cancer treatment, and allegedly stealing puppies from Amish dog breeders (he vehemently denies the latter two) — Santos has refused to resign from Congress.
In March, Santos filed paperwork to run for reelection in 2024. The Democratic congressman who previously represented the New York district announced in October that he would challenge Santos to reclaim the seat.
A recent effort to expel Santos from Congress, led by New York Republicans, failed in the House.
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