The FBI is investigating Rep. George Santos (R-NY) after a veteran claimed Santos scammed him out of $3,000 that was intended to pay for his dying service dog’s life-saving surgery, Politico reported–the latest investigation into Santos’ string of lies and deceit.
FBI agents contacted U.S. Navy veteran Richard Osthoff on Wednesday seeking information about Osthoff’s claim that Santos ran off with the money he helped him raise for his service dog through a GoFundMe account Santos set up under an animal charity he claimed to have founded, Politico reported, citing an interview with Osthoff.
Osthoff said Santos, who at the time went under the name Anthony Devolder, offered to help him in 2016 when the pit mix he had been given by a veteran’s charity in 2002 developed a life-threatening stomach tumor, Osthoff told Patch last month.
The dog, Sapphire, died in 2017 after Santos closed the account and stopped responding to Osthoff’s calls and text messages, which he turned over to the FBI on Wednesday, he told Politico.
Osthoff’s claim was corroborated by another New Jersey veteran, retired police Sgt. Michael Boll, Patch reported.
Santos denied the allegation that he stole from the GoFundMe account, tweeting that “the reports that I would let a dog die is shocking&insane.”
Forbes has reached out to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
“Only the U.S. attorneys are capable of moving at the speed that’s necessary,” Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) told Politico following revelations the FBI is probing Santos.
Santos, a first-term congressman who flipped a previously held Democratic district on Long Island to win the midterm election, has faced calls for his resignation since revelations emerged in December that he fabricated nearly all of his resume and details about his personal background. Santos claimed in his campaign biography that he founded an animal rescue charity called “Friends of Pets United” that has helped rescue “2,400 dogs and 280 cats,” but after the New York Times reported the Internal Revenue Service could find no records to validate the charity’s existence, Santos admitted he only helped campaign for the charity and find foster homes for the animals. Santos has also admitted to fabricating his claims that he once worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, along with his Jewish heritage (he said he meant that he is “Jew-ish”). Evidence also suggests Santos lied about his mother being present for the September 11 terrorist attacks (immigration records reportedly show she was in Brazil at the time) and that he “lost” four employees in the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando (he later said the victims were in the process of being hired).
What To Watch For
Santos is facing calls for his resignation from a coalition of his GOP colleagues in Congress, along with the Nassau County Republican Party. While he has refused to resign, he stepped away from his House committee assignments on Tuesday, citing the multiple ongoing investigations against him. Lawmakers and watchdog groups have requested the House Ethics Committee, Office of Congressional Ethics and Federal Election Commission probe Santos for possible campaign violations, citing allegations he raised money through an independent expenditure committee that was reportedly unregistered with the FEC and campaign finance filings that appeared to show he underreported donations. The Justice Department, New York Attorney General and Nassau County prosecutor’s office are also investigating Santos for any potential unlawful activity.