Incoming New York Congressman George Santos is now at the center of a potential criminal investigation after admitting that he lied about his background on the campaign trail, NBC New York reports.
Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly revealed Wednesday, Dec. 28, that her office is investigating the Republican politician following his admission that he “embellished” his resume and lied about graduating from college, the outlet reports.
“The numerous fabrications and inconsistencies associated with Congressman-Elect Santos are nothing short of stunning," Donnelly said in a statement to NBC New York.
“The residents of Nassau County and other parts of the third district must have an honest and accountable representative in Congress. No one is above the law and if a crime was committed in this county, we will prosecute it.”
Santos, who is set to represent the state’s 3rd Congressional District on Long Island’s North Shore and parts of Queens, is scheduled to be sworn into the US House on Tuesday, Jan. 3. Once in office, he faces a potential investigation by the House Ethics Committee.
Santos had not publicly responded to Donnelly’s investigation as of 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The probe comes a week after a bombshell New York Times report alleging that Santos lied about working as a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor.”
Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, where Santos previously claimed to have worked, have no record of him, the outlet reports. His supposed alma maters, Baruch College and NYU, also claimed he had never attended.
Santos, age 34, also appears to have made up his nonprofit animal rescue group, Friends of Pets United, which the IRS had no records of, according to the report.
Also unverified is the $80 million family investment firm that Santos claims to manage, the report says.
The New York Times report goes on to question Santos’ claim that he “lost four employees” at the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida in June 2016, as he claimed in an interview with WNYC.
“I am not a criminal,” Santos later told the New York Post, adding that the controversy “will not deter me from having good legislative successes.”
Santos admitted to The Post that he had “never worked directly” for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, calling that claim a “poor choice of words.” Instead, he said he was a vice president at another company, Link Bridge, that did business with those companies.
“I will be clearer about that,” Santos told The Post. “It was stated poorly.”
Santos also admitted that he never graduated from any college, despite previous claims that he obtained a degree from Baruch in 2010.
“I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume,” he told The Post.
He also admitted to lying about having Jewish ancestry, telling The Post that he is Catholic, but because he learned his maternal family had a Jewish background, he joked that he is “Jew-ish.”
Additional accusations of false claims were reported by CNN on Wednesday, Dec. 28, including that Santos was forced to leave Horace Mann, an elite private school in the Bronx, when his family's real estate assets declined.
CNN also reported more instances in which Santos allegedly lied about his family's background, including one where he claimed his mother's family's historical Jewish name was "Zabrovsky." However, genealogists the outlet spoke with found no evidence of Jewish or Ukrainian heritage in his family tree.
Fellow New York Congressman Ritchie Torres, a Democrat representing the 15th District in New York City, said Donnelly’s investigation would be “the first of many to come.”
“Santos will be gone by the end of his term or well before then,” Torres said on Twitter. “He should RESIGN.”
Rep.-elect Nick LaLota, a Republican set to represent the 1st District in Suffolk County, echoed Torres’ call for an investigation, saying Long Islanders were “deeply troubled” by the admissions.
“As a Navy man who campaigned on restoring accountability and integrity to our government, I believe a full investigation by the House Ethics Committee and, if necessary, law enforcement, is required,” LaLota said in a statement.
“New Yorkers deserve the truth and House Republicans deserve an opportunity to govern without this distraction.”
Santos, who was born to Brazilian immigrants in Jackson Heights, Queens, made history as the first openly gay non-incumbent Republican and the first Brazilian-American elected to Congress.
He defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman in November 2022.
Zimmerman has since called on Santos to resign and face an election do-over.
“George, if that’s even your real name, if you’re so convinced that #NY03 voters still trust you - resign & run against me again in a special election,” Zimmerman said on Twitter.
“Face the voters with your real past & answer questions about your criminal history. Let the voters decide.”
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