Representative George Santos has been unable to keep the names of his bond co-signers confidential, contrary to his previous threat to go to jail rather than expose their identities. On Thursday, the court’s docket publicly released the names, confirming that the suretors were Santos’ family members: his father, Gercino dos Santos, and his aunt, Elma Preven.
Following his arrest on a 13-count U.S. indictment, Santos has remained free on a $500,000 bond, which was secured by his two family members acting as suretors. Throughout his pretrial proceedings, Santos has been primarily focused on keeping their identities undisclosed. However, he was unsuccessful in his attempts, losing both before a magistrate and a district judge.
Earlier, Santos had indicated that he would rather surrender to pretrial detention than subject his suretors to potential risks to their safety. His attorney, Joseph W. Murray, expressed concern that the suretors could suffer distress, job loss, or even physical harm. However, legal experts were skeptical of his claim, noting that individuals involved in fraud often make dramatic statements for effect but retreat when challenged.
U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert called Santos’ bluff and granted him until noon on Thursday to decide whether to modify the conditions of his release or allow the suretors’ identities to be made public. Ultimately, Santos chose to maintain his freedom and allowed the disclosure of his family members’ identities.
Judge Seybert unsealed her ruling, emphasizing that Santos drew more attention to his family members by attempting to shield their identities. She stated that family members frequently serve as suretors for criminal defendants in the country and that disclosure of their identities is unlikely to create a significant story. The judge believed that Santos’ continued attempts to protect the suretors’ identities, despite their lack of controversy, had unnecessarily created unnecessary speculation.
In her ruling, Judge Seybert concluded that disclosing the suretors’ identities was necessary to put an end to speculations surrounding the congressman’s bond. However, it’s important to note that the family members’ signing of the bond does not necessarily imply that they possess the funds or assets required; their obligation is to pay the six-figure sum if Santos fails to appear in court.
Congressman Santos, once hailed as a rising star within the MAGA movement, has faced a series of investigative news articles and criminal prosecutions that have jeopardized both his political career and personal freedom. He has been accused of fabricating or exaggerating various aspects of his life, including his education, religion, work history, and family’s connections to significant tragedies like the Holocaust and the 9/11 attacks.
As the truth unraveled, prosecutors at the federal, state, local, and international levels launched investigations into potential criminal misconduct by Santos. Authorities in Brazil and the Eastern District of New York alleged that Santos engaged in fraudulent activities.
Santos now faces charges of wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and making false statements to the House of Representatives. The most serious charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years. Prosecutors assert that Santos orchestrated a fraudulent campaign contribution scheme through a limited liability company, aiming to defraud potential political supporters. Additionally, he allegedly falsely claimed unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic while reportedly earning a significant salary.
Santos has pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him.