George Santos calls federal charges a “witch hunt” and refuses to resign after arrest

George Santos described the criminal charges against him as a “witch hunt” at a defiant news conference following his arrest on Wednesday.

The New York congressman spoke in front of federal court after being indicted on charges of fraud, theft of public funds and money laundering.

“It’s a witch hunt,” he told a crowd of reporters. “I am going to fight my battle, I am going to comply, I am going to fight the witch hunt, I am going to take it upon myself to clear my name,” she said, adding that he planned to run for re-election.

the 34 year old congressman for New York’s 3rd District, who won his election after a campaign riddled with lies about his past, was arrested shortly after 9 a.m. after turning himself in to authorities.

In the 13-count indictment, federal prosecutors accused Santos of lying on the financial disclosure forms he filed with the House when he became a candidate, first by exaggerating income from one job and failing to disclose income from another, and second by lying about his earnings from his company, the Devolder Organization.

Prosecutors also allege that Mr. Santos fraudulently used donations to his political campaign for his own gain, spending “thousands of dollars of the requested funds on personal expenses, including luxury designer clothing and credit card payments.” .

The indictment alleges that Mr. Santos’ fraud began before his successful run for Congress, accusing him of running an unemployment insurance fraud scheme in which he applied for government assistance in New York while still working for an investment firm with headquarters in Florida.

“Taken together, the allegations in the indictment accuse Santos of relying on repeated dishonesty and deceit to rise to the halls of Congress and enrich himself,” Breon Peace, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

Santos pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on $500,000 bond after his arraignment, which lasted about 15 minutes. His attorney said the congressman turned over his passport to the court.

Santos could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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