Federal law enforcement officials are reportedly investigating Rep. George Santos (R-NY) over his alleged involvement in a “GoFundMe scheme” that was set up for a disabled U.S. Navy veteran’s dog.
Santos told Politico that two FBI agents contacted Richard Osthoff, the disabled Navy veteran, as part of an investigation being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York.
Osthoff says that Santos raised $3,000 for life-saving surgery that was needed for his pit bull and then ran off with the money. He reportedly gave agents text message exchanges that he had with Santos.
“I’m glad to get the ball rolling with the big-wigs,” Osthoff said on Wednesday. “I was worried that what happened to me was too long ago to be prosecuted.”
The text messages, which were first reported by Patch, allegedly show Santos going by the name Anthony Devolder and claiming that he had a pet charity called Friends of Pets United.
The New York Times reported in December that there was no evidence the charity was even real.
The freshman congressman, who has admitted to lying about aspects of his career and personal life, is facing probes from federal and local authorities in addition to congressional investigations.
“With the ongoing attention surrounding both my personal and campaign financial investigations, I have submitted a request to Speaker McCarthy that I be temporarily recused from my committee assignments until I am cleared,” Santos said in a statement. “This was a decision that I take very seriously.”
“The business of the 118th Congress must continue without media fanfare,” he continued. “It is important that I primarily focus on serving the constituents of New York’s Third Congressional District and providing federal level representation without distraction.”
Santos has already admitted that he fibbed about working 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.
The New York Times reported earlier this month 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.