Santos aide charged with fraud for impersonating top congressional aide

By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) – A campaign aide to embattled Republican U.S. Representative George Santos was charged with identity theft and wire fraud in federal court for impersonating a top congressional staffer in fundraising appeals, court documents unsealed on Wednesday showed.

The indictment, filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, said Samuel Miele created an email account bearing the name of “Person #1,” identified as “a high-ranking aide to a member of the House with leadership responsibilities.”

House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy has confirmed media reports alleging that Miele impersonated one of his top aides to elicit contributions to Santos’s campaign.

Miele reached out to over a dozen contributors through the email account and phone calls, the indictment said, receiving a commission of 15% of the contributions he solicited to Santos’ campaign.

Miele could not be immediately reached for comment.

According to the indictment, Miele admitted to Santos in August 2021 that he faked his identity “to a big donor,” adding “that he was ‘high risk, high reward in everything I do.'”

Santos’ and McCarthy’s offices did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Santos has admitted to lying about his resume during his campaign, and has faced calls from within his own party to step down. He was indicted in May on federal charges including fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds. He has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

The indictment itself did not name Santos, referring instead to “Candidate #1,” but a letter from federal prosecutors to the court said the two cases may be considered “presumptively related.”

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Washington; editing by Andy Sullivan)