Former Fundraiser for Rep. Santos Pleads Guilty to Federal Wire Fraud Charge

A former campaign fundraiser for Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) pleaded guilty on Nov. 14 to federal wire fraud charges related to impersonating a high-ranking congressional aide while soliciting donations for Mr. Santos, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Fundraiser Samuel Miele, 27, was charged with four counts of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to court documents filed on Aug. 15.

He pleaded guilty on Nov. 14 at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York, to wire fraud committed while he was working as a fundraiser for Mr. Santos, who, at the time, was a candidate seeking election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

As part of his plea, Mr. Miele also admitted that he committed access device fraud by charging credit cards without authorization for contributions to the campaigns of Mr. Santos, as well as for his personal use.

That fraud totaled about $100,000, prosecutors said.

He faces up to 20 years in prison.

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Mr. Miele also agreed to pay $109,171 in restitution, $69,136 in forfeiture, and a separate stipulated payment of $470,000 to a contributor during his court appearance, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert is overseeing the case.

“The defendant used fraud and deceit to steal more than one hundred thousand dollars from his victims, funneling this money into the campaign committees of candidates for the House, and into his own pockets,” Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement. “Defrauding potential political contributors undermines our democracy, and we will vigorously prosecute such conduct.”

‘High Risk, High Reward’

According to prosecutors, Mr. Miele engaged in a fraudulent scheme to solicit financial contributions for Mr. Santos’s campaign by impersonating a high-ranking aide to a member of the House.

While the indictment doesn’t identify the impersonated individual, multiple news outlets identified the aide as Dan Myer, who has since retired as the longtime chief of staff to former House Speaker Mr. McCarthy (R-Calif.), who was the House GOP leader at the time.

The scheme took place between August and December 2021, according to prosecutors, and Mr. Miele—who received a commission on the amount of money he raised for Mr. Santos’s campaign—allegedly impersonated the individual in both email and telephone communications with potential campaign contributors.

This was done for both the purpose of soliciting financial contributions to support the campaign and “enriching himself through commissions earned on these financial contributions to the Campaign,” prosecutors said.

Mr. Miele also used a false email account created in that individual’s name to send fraudulent fundraising solicitations to more than a dozen potential contributors, court documents state.

The individual didn’t authorize Mr. Miele or any other agents of the campaign to use their name or other means of identification to solicit contributions for Mr. Santos’s campaign, prosecutors noted.

However, Mr. Miele, according to prosecutors, sent a letter to Mr. Santos, admitting to “faking my identity to a big donor,” saying he was “high risk, high reward in everything I do.”

“This defendant misrepresented himself as a high-ranking congressional aide to deceive political donors and used their money to pad his own pocket and the coffers of a candidate,” Anne T. Donnelly, district attorney of Nassau County, New York, stated. “The integrity of fundraising practices is essential for fair elections.”

Mr. Santos wasn’t charged in the case involving Mr. Miele.

 Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) walks out of a federal courthouse in Long Island with his lawyer Joe Murray (L) in Central Islip, N.Y., on Oct. 27, 2023. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) walks out of a federal courthouse in Long Island with his lawyer Joe Murray (L) in Central Islip, N.Y., on Oct. 27, 2023. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Santos Facing Mounting Pressure

His former fundraiser’s guilty plea comes roughly one month after Nancy Marks, Mr. Santos’s treasurer for his primary congressional campaign committee, also pleaded guilty in the same court to multiple campaign finance felonies.

Ms. 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 (FEC); and commit aggravated identity theft.

She faces up to five years in prison, as well as restitution and a fine.

Meanwhile, Mr. Santos, who represents parts of Queens and Long Island, has been federally charged with 23 crimes, including conspiracy, wire fraud, false statements, lying to Congress, money laundering, falsification of records, aggravated identity theft, and credit card fraud, among others.

Prosecutors allege the Republican lawmaker, 35, used a limited liability company (LLC) to carry out a “scheme to defraud supporters of his candidacy for the House” during his successful congressional campaign in September 2022.

According to prosecutors, Mr. Santos illegally transferred a $25,000 campaign donation from one donor and a $24,000 donation from another to that LLC’s bank account, which he controlled, laundering the money and spending much of it purchasing personal items including clothing, and paying off debts.

Additionally, he’s charged with unlawfully applying for unemployment benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities Act. during the pandemic and lying to the House of Representatives in financial statements.

New charges were laid out against him last month, with prosecutors accusing Mr. Santos of filing fraudulent fundraising reports with the FEC to obtain financial support for his campaign. He is also alleged to have repeatedly charged campaign contributors’ credit cards without their permission, and of exploiting their personal and financial information.

He is also accused of concealing the source of these funds through unauthorized transactions.

In May, Mr. Santos, a first-term Republican, pleaded not guilty in May to federal charges of wire fraud, money laundering, misappropriation of public funds, and making false statements to Congress.

Lawmakers have sought to expel Mr. Santos from Congress but have so far been unsuccessful, with his colleagues from both sides of the aisle noting the representative hasn’t yet been convicted of the alleged crimes.

Mr. Santos’s lawyer didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Caden Pearson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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