George Santos says mystery guarantors who secured his $500K bond are dad, aunt
The identities of the mystery guarantors who secured Rep. George Santos’ $500,000 bond last month were revealed in a court document unsealed Thursday.
Santos, 34, had previously claimed that family members made the payment, but critics argued it could have been lobbyists or political donors.
The congressman told Eyewitness News Reporter Chantee Lans on Thursday morning that it was actually his father and his aunt, which was later confirmed by the court documents.
Gercino Santos, 60, and Elma Santos Preven, 71, co-signed the bond that Santos, a first-term Republican congressman who represents parts of Queens and Nassau County, posted after pleading not guilty last month to a 13-count indictment accusing him of fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds.
According to federal prosecutors, Santos orchestrated a series of schemes while running for Congress, including duping donors, fraudulently receiving pandemic unemployment benefits and lying on his congressional disclosure forms.
His attorney previously expressed a preference for Santos to go to jail rather than release the names of the bail backers to the public and argued harm could befall the suretors if their identities were revealed.
“Here in the instant case, the suretors are likely to suffer great distress, may lose their jobs, and god forbid suffer physical injury,” defense Joseph Murray said in a court filing. Santos echoed the sentiment.
“There’s a concern for their safety and well-being given their ages as well. So it’s something that worries me. What can I say? It’s tough, but there’s not much that can be done at this point. The judge made her decision and I respect the decision,” Santos told ABC News.
Judge Joana Seybert sided with a coalition of news organizations, including ABC News, who argued the names should be made public.
“It is disingenuous for Defendant to maintain that the self-characterized media frenzy, or the purported vitriolic reactions which Defendant encountered surrounding his Indictment, risk inhibiting the Suretors’ ability to fulfil their supervisory role,” Seybert wrote in her order to unseal. “Indeed, it appears Defendant’s continued attempts to shield the identity of his Suretors, notwithstanding the fact that he is aware their identities are not controversial, has simply created hysteria over what is, in actuality, a nonissue.”
This week, two House Democrats – Dan Goldman of Brooklyn and Greg Landsman of Cincinnati – asked the House Ethics Committee to disclose whether Santos had complied with the committee’s request to reveal the suretors’ names.
The committee has been investigating Santos since March. On May 16, the committee sent a letter to Santos requesting the names of his suretors so it could determine “whether you may have solicited or received an improper gift in connection with the bond sureties.”
Santos has refused to resign and plans to seek a second term.