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Still More Trouble for "George Santos"

As long as we are on the subject of Republican politicians in danger of being nabbed by the long arm of the law, Rep. "George Santos" (R-NY) has yet another headache on his platter. Truth be told, there are so many revelations about him from so many different places that we don't generally bother to mention them anymore. But this one seems pretty serious.

In short, a former roommate of "Santos" named Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha, who was convicted of ATM fraud in 2017 and deported to Brazil, just gave the FBI a sworn statement in which he asserts that "Santos" masterminded the whole scheme. "Santos taught me how to skim card information and how to clone cards," Trelha asserted in the statement. "He gave me all the materials and taught me how to put skimming devices and cameras on ATM machines."

Let's get right to the meat of this. Given "Santos'" apparent track record, this certainly passes the smell test on first examination. If this was ever to come to trial, obviously the Representative's attorneys would make the case that you can't trust a convicted crook like Trelha. That's usually a pretty good argument, but in this case, there does not appear to be any benefit to Trelha in coming forward. He's already been convicted and punished. He says he contacted the FBI because he saw "Santos" being sworn in, and thought it was problematic that someone like him should be participating in the governance of the United States.

The second potential problem, when it comes to whether or not "Santos" might be prosecuted, is whether or not the statute of limitations has run. We do not have the necessary expertise to answer that question, and even if we did have the expertise, we don't have the necessary information (specifically, on what date the most recent alleged crime was committed). We can say a few things, however. First, while many crimes have a statute of limitations of 2-3 years, financial crimes and/or conspiracy tend to have much longer statutes of limitations (often 7 years, which, if true here, would mean that the matter is still open). Second, while the ATM fraud may have ended in 2016 or 2017, Trelha says "Santos" visited him in jail and urged Trelha not to turn state's evidence. If that visit was in, say, 2018 or 2019, then that would set the start date for something like conspiracy or obstruction of justice to 2018 or 2019, as opposed to 2016 or 2017. Third, the FBI says this is "an ongoing investigation," and they took Trelha's statement. It's hard to imagine those things would be true if "Santos" was now immune from prosecution.

In any event, most readers of this site, and most politics-watchers in general, probably don't care too much if "Santos" goes to prison. The real question for most folks is whether he will be able to keep his seat in Congress. He's already under the microscope of the House Ethics Committee, and Thursday's news certainly isn't going to help on that front. There are really only three outcomes possible: (1) "Santos" decides he's better off just throwing in the towel, either because he's tired of the constant scrutiny or he's made some sort of deal with prosecutors, (2) "Santos'" colleagues throw him out on his ear, or (3) he runs out the clock on this term, and then goes away. We listed those from most likely to least likely, in our view, but we could also be persuaded that #2 is slightly more likely than #1. Either way, we don't think he's going to make it to the end of his term. (Z)

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