Brazilian authorities are reopening a criminal fraud case against Rep.-elect George Santos (R-N.Y.) from more than a decade ago and seeking his response, adding to the local and federal investigations already ongoing in the United States following the revelations of the false statements he has made about himself.
A spokesperson for Rio de Janeiro’s prosecutor’s office told The New York Times that police had been unable to locate Santos, but with his location known, the office will request the Justice Department formally notify him of the charges.
Santos reportedly entered a small clothing store in Niterói, a city outside Rio de Janeiro, shortly before his 20th birthday in 2008 and spent almost $700 using a stolen checkbook and a fake name, according to court records.
Santos admitted to the shop owner that he committed fraud in August 2009 and wrote on a social media website that he knows he “screwed up” but wants to pay. He and his mother told police the next year that he stole the checkbook from a man that the mother formerly worked for, the Times reported.
A judge approved a charge against Santos in September 2011 and ordered Santos to respond, but he was in the United States by October.
Santos previously denied that any criminal charge had been filed against him in Brazil in an interview with the New York Post last week.
“I am not a criminal here — not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world,” he said. “Absolutely not. That didn’t happen.”
Santos’s attorney, Joe Murray, told the Times that “it was no surprise” that Santos has enemies at the Times who are trying to “smear” him with these “defamatory allegations.”
The Hill has reached out to Santos’s campaign for comment.
The report comes as Santos is already facing two separate investigations stemming from his admitting having made a variety of false claims about his educational, work and personal background while running for Congress to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional District.
The district attorney for Nassau County and federal authorities announced last week that they would launch investigations into him.
Santos admitted to “embellishing” his résumé during the interview with the Post, acknowledging that he made false statements about having worked for Goldman Sachs and graduating from Baruch College in New York, neither of which he did. He also conceded that he is not Jewish despite having claimed to be a “proud American Jew” in a position paper during the campaign.
Many Democrats have called for Santos to step aside from his position in light of the revelations, and a few Republicans have said the House and the GOP should look into his future standing in the body.