Rep. George Santos asked a judge to keep the names of the guarantors of his $500,000 bond a secret.
The congressman said outing them would make them targets for job loss, violence, and death threats.
Santos said he'd rather forfeit his bond and go to jail than reveal his suretors' identities.
Rep. George Santos begged a judge not to reveal the names of the anonymous people who agreed to pony up a $500,000 bond to keep him out of jail as he fights criminal fraud charges.
And if the judge mandates that his guarantors be identified, Santos said he'd forfeit his bond and remain jailed until his trial, according to court documents obtained by Insider.
In a letter to US Judge Anne Shields late Monday, Santos, through his lawyer Joseph Murray, argued that divulging their names would subject them to a media frenzy, public ridicule, harassment, job loss, and potential violence.
"Here in the instant case, the suretors are likely to suffer great distress, may lose their jobs, and God forbid, may suffer physical injury," Murray wrote in a letter to the judge, which was obtained by Insider.
"My client would rather surrender to pretrial detainment than subject these suretors to what will inevitably come," Murray added.
In Monday's letter, Murray said he and Santos have been victims of harassment and death threats since his client was indicted last month and is sure that the same would happen to the suretors.
"There is little doubt that the suretors will suffer some unnecessary form of retaliation if their identities and employment are revealed," Murray wrote, adding that an unknown person called him as soon as he filed documents to the court last week.
"The fact that someone emailed me my own letter back to me soon after I filed it with the Court, tells us that they are just ready and waiting to pounce," the lawyer wrote. "A few hours later on Friday, June 2, 2023, I received a call wherein a male voice just shouted what sounded like, 'Who paid Santos' bond?' Again, they are just waiting to pounce on the suretors."
Shields didn't buy Santos' argument. On Tuesday, she ruled that she would reveal who's backing Santos' bond, according to a description of the order in the court's records system.
She said Santos and his attorneys have until noon on Friday to appeal the ruling. Santos' attorney declined to comment on the ruling and prosecutors did not immediately respond to a request for a statement on the judge's decision.
Last month, Shields held a clandestine hearing with the bond guarantors, court filings show, and their names have not been revealed to the public.
A media consortium — including Insider — has lobbied the court to divulge the names of the people who secured his bond, arguing that it was in the public interest.
"There is a compelling public interest in maintaining the greatest transparency possible in these proceedings, which involve criminal charges brought against a sitting member of the United States House of Representatives for fraud and theft of public money, among other alleged criminal conduct," the letter from the news organizations to the judge states.
A grand jury indicted Santos last month on 13 criminal charges, including fraud. Prosecutors allege Santos solicited donations that were purported to be for his campaign, but he instead spent on personal expenses. Prosecutors also allege he improperly collected unemployment benefits while he was collecting a six-figure salary and filed false financial disclosure reports to Congress for his two election campaigns.
Santos pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on May 10, has denied any wrongdoing, and pledged to vigorously defend himself from the charges.
Santos is due back in court later this month.
Read the original article on Business Insider