CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) — U.S. Rep. George Santos pleaded not guilty Friday to revised charges accusing him of several frauds, including making tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges on credit cards belonging to some of his campaign donors.
The New York Republican appeared at a Long Island courthouse, where a lawyer entered the plea on his behalf. Santos previously pleaded not guilty to other charges, first filed in May, accusing him of lying to Congress about his wealth, receiving unemployment benefits he didn’t deserve, and using campaign contributions to pay for personal expenses like designer clothing.
The court appearance came the morning after some of Santos’ Republican colleagues from New York launched an effort to expel him from Congress.
Santos didn’t speak to reporters as he left the courthouse, but smiled and waved at a small group of protesters shouting insults from across the street.
A judge tentatively scheduled a trial for September, which would come after the state’s congressional primary. U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert turned down a request by prosecutors to have the trial as soon as May.
Santos is free on bail while he awaits trial. He has denied any serious wrongdoing and blamed irregularities in his government regulatory filings on his former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, who he claims “went rogue.”
Marks in turn has implicated Santos. She told a judge when she recently pleaded guilty to a fraud conspiracy charge that she had helped Santos trick Republican party officials into supporting his run for office in 2022 through bogus Federal Election Committee filings that made him look richer than he really was, partly by listing an imaginary $500,000 loan that had supposedly come from his personal wealth.
Santos has continued to represent his New York district in Congress since he was charged, rejecting calls for his resignation from several fellow New York Republicans.
U.S. Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, who represents a congressional district next to the one that elected Santos, introduced a resolution Thursday calling for Santos to be expelled from the House, saying he wasn’t fit to serve his constituents. He was joined by four other New York Republicans, U.S. Reps. Nick LaLota, Michael Lawler, Marc Molinaro and Brandon Williams.
Santos posted a cryptic note on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying, “Everything has an end in life,” but later added three points of clarification.
“1. I have not cleared out my office. 2. I’m not resigning. 3. I’m entitled to due process and not a predetermined outcome as some are seeking,” he wrote.
He has previously said he intends to run for reelection next year, though he could face a lengthy prison term if convicted.
During his successful 2022 run for office, Santos was buoyed by an uplifting life story that was later revealed to be rife with fabrications. Among other things, he never worked for the major Wall Street investment firms where he claimed to have been employed, didn’t go to the college where he claimed to have been a star volleyball player, and misled people about having Jewish heritage.
While Santos hasn’t faced any criminal charges related to the lies he told the public, he does face allegations that he propped up his image as having made a fortune in the investing world by submitting a false financial disclosure to the U.S. House.
Before Santos entered his plea Friday, the judge held a hearing to consider possible conflicts of interests for Santos’ attorney, Joseph Murray, who is an acquaintance of two other people who are part of the case.
Marks was the treasurer of Murray’s failed 2019 campaign for Queens district attorney. Murray said he also has a personal relationship with an unidentified Person No. 1 listed in the indictment. Murray said he would not take part in cross-examination if that person were called as a witness.