George Santos, a newly elected Republican who has defied calls to resign for fabricating his resume, was detained on federal accusations of fraud, money laundering, and theft of public funds on Wednesday. This is the latest blow to Santos.

Santos, 34, is accused of deceiving potential political supporters by laundering money to pay for his personal costs and fraudulently collecting unemployment benefits while he was employed in the 13-count indictment, which was released on Wednesday, as reported by Reuters.

Additionally, he is charged with lying to the House of Representatives about his possessions, earnings, and debts.

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

“He used political contributions to line his pockets, unlawfully applied for unemployment benefits that should have gone to New Yorkers who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic and lied to the House of Representatives,” Peace said.

Requests for comment were forwarded to Santos’ attorney via his congressional office by Reuters, but requests for comment regarding the indictment did not immediately elicit a response from Santos’ defence counsel.

Top House Republicans, who currently have a tenuous 222-213 majority in the body, have said they will reserve judgement on Santos. According to Speaker Kevin McCarthy, “In America, you’re innocent until proven guilty.”

A short time after Santos was chosen to represent an affluent section of Long Island, New York, in 2022, the New York Times and other media sources exposed that he had made up practically all of his personal and professional past.

The criminal charges follow a barrage of scandals that have weighed Santos down since before he was sworn into Congress in January. The Republican weeks earlier announced his 2024 reelection campaign, snubbing critics from both parties who urged for his resignation.

Santos faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail for the top charges against him, according to the Justice Department, as reported by CNBC. 

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