Santos pleads not guilty to latest federal charges

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Washington — Rep. George Santos, a Republican of New York, pleaded not guilty Friday to the latest slew of additional federal charges accusing him in a superseding indictment of stealing his campaign donors' identities and racking up thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges on their credit cards.

Santos arrived at U.S. District Court in Central Islip, New York, and did not speak to reporters, according to CBS News New York.

His trial date has been set for Sept. 9, according to the U.S. attorney's office, which is 57 days before the November general election, but after the Republican primary. Santos has already drawn a number of challengers who are seeking to unseat him, including former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi, who gave up the seat to mount an unsuccessful run for governor in 2022.

Santos entered a not-guilty plea to the superseding indictment, and he waived the conflicts raised by the government involving his lawyer Joe Murray's past dealings with his ex-campaign manager Nancy Marks and another individual who was not identified. His next status conference is Dec. 12.

Federal prosecutors were also expected to seek to modify or expand Santos' pretrial release conditions. In a filing with the court, prosecutors said that the government provided Santos with the identities of additional people he would be banned from contacting. However, because some of them are members of Santos' family, his defense counsel requested that he be allowed to contact some of them.

According to prosecutors, Santos' counsel agreed that he "will continue to be prohibited from communicating with these individuals about this case, the pending charges against him, the facts underlying the pending charges and any future court proceedings, trial or testimony in this matter."

The latest allegations were detailed in a superseding indictment that was unsealed earlier this month, after his former campaign treasurer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States, admitting that Santos' campaign finance reports were embellished with fake loans and donors.

The newest indictment alleges Santos "repeatedly without authorization" used the credit cards of campaign donors to benefit his campaign and himself personally.

The indictment describes how Santos allegedly used one donor's credit card repeatedly without the donor's knowledge, charging $15,800 to his campaign and related political committees. In the following months, prosecutors alleged Santos tried to make $44,800 in unauthorized charges using the same donor's information. Some of the money was transferred to Santos' personal bank account, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors also alleged that Santos and his former campaign treasurer Nancy Marks agreed to falsify his campaign finance reports in order to hit fundraising benchmarks and bolster his campaign. The duo also allegedly lied about a $500,000 loan they said Santos made to his campaign.

"Why would I want to hurt the same people who went out of their way to get me here?" Santos told reporters in denying the recent charges.

The original indictment against Santos accused him of wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and making materially false statements to the House of Representatives. Altogether, Santos is charged with 23 criminal counts.

Santos pleaded not guilty in May to the charges in the original indictment. He has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and has dismissed calls for him to resign from Congress.

"I'm entitled to due process and not a predetermined outcome as some are seeking," he said on social media on Thursday.

As the charges have piled up against Santos, some of his Republican colleagues in New York are seeking to oust him from Congress after a Democratic attempt to do so failed earlier this year.

On Thursday, Rep. Anthony D'Esposito introduced a resolution to expel Santos that the House has two legislative days to consider.

The effort follows one made by House Democrats earlier this year, which was blocked by Republicans. Then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy argued that the legal process should be allowed to play out, and the matter was referred to the House Ethics Committee to conduct an investigation.

Scott MacFarlane and Robert Legare contributed to this report.

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