LGBTQ POLITICS - Gay Representative-elect George Santos (R-NY) has been caught lying about his entire past, including his education, career, and religion. And now it seems he has backtracked his previous admission to check fraud.
Prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro believe that Santos stole a checkbook in 2008 and used it to make purchases while using an ID with his picture and someone else’s name at a clothing store in Niterói, Brazil, and investigators have said that they’re re-opening the investigation, which had previously been “archived” when Santos couldn’t be found.
Santos has denied wrongdoing in the case: “I am not a criminal here – not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world. Absolutely not. That didn’t happen.”
But that’s not what Santos has always said about the charges, according to case documents from the late 2000s. Police in Brazil called Santos in to speak with them in 2008, 2009, and 2010. In November 2010, Santos’s mother, a nurse, told police that she had the checkbook in her purse and that it belonged to Delio da Camara da Costa Alemao, a patient of hers. She said that her son stole and used four checks from the checkbook.
That same month, Santos confessed to stealing “some sheets” from the checkbook, the documents say. He said that he forged the patient’s signature to buy some shoes and some clothes for $1,313.63. He also claimed to be a professor – which there is no evidence that he ever was – and said that he had dual U.S./Brazilian citizenship.
He said that his mother asked him to return the checkbook but that he had already torn the checks to pieces and thrown them down a manhole, the documents say.
Santos “acknowledged having been responsible for forging the signatures on the checks, also confirming that he had destroyed the remaining checks,” the report said, according to CNN. The document includes a signed confession from Santos dated November 18, 2010.
The documents also say that, after buying the clothes at the store, a man named Thiago came in trying to exchange the shoes for a different size, saying they were a gift from a friend.
The store became suspicious since two of Santos’s forged checks, meant to pay for the clothes in installments, didn’t have matching signatures. The store contacted the account owner, who said that he lost his checkbook in 2006 and subsequently closed his bank account.
The store then made a clerk pay for some of Santos’s purchases, and the clerk tracked down Santos on social media. Santos promised to pay but never did, and then the clerk turned over Santos’s picture and information to the police.
In 2011, investigators tried to press charges against Santos, but neither Santos nor his lawyer responded to a judge’s summons. Authorities attempted to deliver a summons to his address, but he wasn’t there, nor was his mother.
In 2013, the court published a statement in the local newspaper telling him to go to court. He never did. The judge suspended the statute of limitations in case he was ever found again. Brazilian authorities said last week that they’re reviving the investigation now that he has been located.
After being elected to represent New York’s Third Congressional District and becoming the first out gay Republican elected to Congress, Santos’ life story came crumbling down as several newspapers reported he never went to the colleges he said he attended, never worked for the major banks he said he worked for, and that he had been lying about his family history as well. He has admitted to many of these lies, calling them “a little bit of fluff” on his resume.
Last week, Santos admitted that he lied about graduating from Baruch College and New York University, working directly for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, and living at a fake address in his congressional district. He provided no additional proof to back up claims that he founded a charity called Friends of Pets, that his grandparents escaped the Holocaust, and that he lost four employees in the June 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting.
His ex-boyfriend, Pedro Vilarva, said that, while they lived together, he paid many bills for Santos. He suspects that Santos stole and pawned his phone for cash.
“He used to say he would get money from Citigroup, he was an investor,” Vilarva said. “One day it’s one thing, one day it’s another thing. He never ever actually went to work.”
Vilarva found out about the forged checks online and that’s when he packed all of his belongings into trash bags and moved out.
(Alex Bollinger has been working in LGBTQ media for over a decade and has a Masters degree from the Paris School of Economics. He lives in Paris with his partner. Follow @alexpbollinger on Twitter. This story was first published in LGBTQnation.com.)