Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) will be sworn into office Tuesday while under investigation by federal and local-level officials related to false claims that he made while on the campaign trail.
The New York Times reported over the weekend that law enforcement officials in Brazil “intend to revive fraud charges” against Santos stemming from an incident in 2008 that involved a checkbook that was allegedly stolen.
The case was suspended because law enforcement was not able to find him, the report said. Brazilian prosecutors will now make a formal request to the Department of Justice to notify Santos of the charges.
The alleged incident happened when Santos, then 19, entered a small clothing store and spent $700 using a stolen checkbook and a false name, the report said. He allegedly admitted to the fraud on a Brazilian social media website the following year.
He and his mother allegedly admitted to police in 2010 that he stole the checkbook to make fraudulent purchases, the report said. The following year the charge against Santos was approved, but he had already left the country and was living in the U.S.
The report added that at this point in the case, neither U.S. nor Brazilian officials can get Santos to respond, however, that could change if the case moves forward. If convicted, Santos could face up to half a decade in prison.
Santos has already admitted that he fibbed about the claim that he worked for financial titans Goldman Sachs and Citigroup; he also admitted that he did not graduate from college. Furthermore, Santos admitted that he embellished some of the details of his personal life, his religion, and his sexuality. However, he said that these controversies would not detract from his duties.
“I am not a criminal,” Santos claimed. “This will not deter me from having good legislative success. I will be effective. I will be good.”
Local prosecutors on Long Island announced late last month that they opened an investigation into Santos following the scandal.
“The numerous fabrications and inconsistencies associated with Congressman-Elect Santos are nothing short of stunning,” said Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly.
“The residents of Nassau County and other parts of the third district must have an honest and accountable representative in Congress,” she added. “No one is above the law and if a crime was committed in this county, we will prosecute it.”
The day after local prosecutors announced the investigation into Santos, federal prosecutors in New York indicated that they have also opened a criminal investigation into the 34-year-old.