Politics

Santos pleads not guilty to new fraud charges

NEW YORK — A solemn Rep. George Santos pleaded not guilty Friday on Long Island to various new federal fraud charges as his colleagues in Washington are eager to oust him.

Judge Joanna Seybert set his trial date for Sept. 9 though prosecutors had sought a May or June start.

Santos, wearing a dark suit, barely spoke in court and left without speaking to reporters. He was welcomed by about two dozen protestors; he waved to them and blew them a kiss.

The September trial date comes after the June primaries for his seat, and Santos has said he intends to run for re-election.

The Republican, who represents Nassau County and Queens, also faces an expulsion vote, potentially next week, after a resolution was filed by his fellow freshman Republicans from New York.

The measure faces an uphill climb as Republicans seek to hang on their slim majority. GOP Rep. Anthony D’Esposito cited Santos’ misrepresentations of his personal connections to the Holocaust, 9/11 terror attacks and Pulse nightclub shooting as reasons he should go, along with the criminal charges.

The new superseding indictment that Eastern District prosecutors brought against Santos brought the total counts against him to 23.

The 10 additional charges were one count of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, two counts of wire fraud, two counts of making materially false statements to the Federal Election Commission, two counts of falsifying records submitted to obstruct the FEC, two counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of access device fraud.

Santos was initially charged in May with 13 counts that included wire fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $500,000 bond.

Prosecutors have also been targeting Santos’ aides, indicting his former campaign associate and eliciting a guilty plea from his former campaign treasurer.

Santos has maintained his innocence and said he would not accept a plea deal, but Nassau County Democratic and Republican Party leaders as well as about 30 candidates have been laying the groundwork to replace him in the 3rd District, bracing for the possibility of a special election.

In court Friday, Santos’ attorney Joe Murray, who formerly ran for Queens district attorney, disclosed potential conflicts of interests relating to people mentioned in the indictment. He will stay on to represent Santos, but said he would bring on more lawyers as they go through discovery and prepare for trial.

Santos’ next court conference date is Dec. 12.

Rep. George Santos appeared in federal court on Long Island to face the latest charges against him.  

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