George Santos Denies Scamming Disabled Veteran Out of Money for Dog’s Cancer Treatment

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is denying new allegations that he raised money for a disabled veteran’s cancer-afflicted service dog only to keep the charitable donations for himself.

Retired U.S. Navy veteran Richard Osthoff recently told Patch.com that he met Santos in May 2016 when his service dog, a pit bull mix named Sapphire, developed a life-threatening stomach tumor. Osthoff, who was living in a tent at the time, learned that it would cost about $3,000 for a surgery to deal with Sapphire’s medical condition.

Unable to pay for his dog’s surgery, Osthoff told the news outlet that a veterinary technician took him aside and told him about an individual named Anthony Devolder, who runs a pet charity called Friends of Pets United.

Santos allegedly went by the name Devolder for several years. Last week, the Twitter account PatriotTakes shared a video purporting to show Santos in attendance at a 2019 “Walk Away LGBT” event in New York City. In the video, a man resembling Santos identified himself as Anthony Devolder and described himself as the founder of a group called “United for Trump.”

Santos had also claimed to have founded Friends of Pets United in 2013, but a New York Times investigation reportedly found no IRS records for an organization under that name nor any records in the New York or New Jersey attorney general’s offices for a charitable organization matching that name.

Osthoff and another New Jersey veteran, retired police Sgt. Michael Boll, told Patch.com that this individual named Devolder set up a GoFundMe page for Osthoff. The fundraising effort successfully raised the $3,000 Osthoff needed for Sapphire’s surgery, but he said the person running the fundraising page instead closed down the fundraiser and kept the money.

Osthoff did announce a successful fundraising effort in a June 30, 2016, Facebook post. Patch.com shared a screenshot of a Nov. 13, 2016, post in which Osthoff appeared to write, “To everyone who helped me and Sapphire raise the money for her surgery, I’m sorry to say that we were scammed by Anthony Devolder [Redacted] and Friends of Pets United FOPU Through a series of bad veterinary contacts, and subterfuge regarding payment, Sapphire has NOT received veterinary care, and her growth is 3 to 4 times bigger than it was when the campaign was fulfilled. She is facing euthanasia within months.”

On Wednesday, Santos reached out to Semafor to deny Osthoff’s allegations.

“Fake. No clue who this is,” Santos texted the publication.

Osthoff’s claims come as Santos is facing a litany of other allegations that he fabricated key details about his past, including his education and employment history. Santos has admitted to fabricating claims about his education and employment.

Fellow Veteran Says He Tried to Get GoFundMe Money Back

After raising the money through GoFundMe, Osthoff had initially been hopeful that Sapphire would get the necessary medical treatment. But he said the individual running the fundraising page became difficult to reach.

After raising the $3,000 in June, Osthoff tried to have a New Jersey practice handle Sapphire’s surgery, but the individual told him to instead go through a veterinary practice in Queens, New York, where that individual said he had “credit” through his regular charity work. Osthoff went to that Queens veterinary practice but the practice told him they couldn’t operate on his dog.

After the delays, Osthoff told the individual with the GoFundMe money, “I’m starting to feel like I was mined for my family and friends’ donations.” In a final phone conversation, that individual told Osthoff that because he hadn’t completed Sapphire’s surgery in the way that the individual had instructed, the money raised through GoFundMe would instead go to other animals.

Boll, a U.S. Marine veteran, told Patch.com that after it appeared that Devolder took the GoFundMe money for himself, he intervened in hopes to get the money back.

“I contacted [Santos] and told him ‘You’re messing with a veteran,’ and that he needed to give back the money or use it to get Osthoff another dog,” Boll told Patch.com.

Osthoff said the individual he believes to be Santos had told him that he planned to use the money raised through GoFundMe would go toward helping other animals. Boll replied that he couldn’t do that because the money was raised specifically for Osthoff, and his service dog.

Osthoff told Patch.com that Sapphire died on Jan. 15, 2017, without the $3,000 he needed for the surgery. Osthoff said he faced such financial hardships at the time that he couldn’t even afford to have Sapphire euthanized and cremated.

Osthoff said he instead had to turn to panhandling.

“It was one of the most degrading things I ever had to do,” he told Patch.com

Santos Facing Growing Calls to Resign

Santos is facing calls for his resignation over his fabrications, including from members of his own party.

“George Santos’s campaign last year was a campaign of deceit, lies, and fabrication,” Joseph Cairo, chairman of the Nassau County GOP, said in a recent press conference

New York GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy also said that “it would be in the best interest of the taxpayers to have new leadership” representing the district in Congress.

Thus far, Santos has indicated he does not plan to resign.

In a Jan. 11 tweet, Santos said, “I was elected to serve the people of #NY03 not the party & politicians, I remain committed to doing that and regret to hear that local officials refuse to work with my office to deliver results to keep our community safe and lower the cost of living. I will NOT resign!”

On Tuesday, Santos was assigned to the House Committee on Small Business and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

From NTD News

Ryan Morgan

Ryan Morgan is a contributing news writer for NTD News.

Original News Source Link