New York's 'Son of Sam' law won't stop George Santos from making bank with his Cameo videos

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  • George Santos, who is under federal indictment, is charging $400 for Cameo videos.

  • Luckily for him, New York's "Son of Sam" law doesn't apply to federal criminal cases.

  • But his videos could come back to bite him if he's sentenced to prison.

Con artist and former Congressman George Santos is rolling in the dough after joining Cameo, charging up to $400 for videos less than a minute in length.

The "Expelled member of Congress from New York City" — as he describes himself in his Cameo profile, even though he represented a district partially on Long Island — reportedly made more money on the platform in two days than he did in a year in Congress, where he held a job before his historic expulsion last week.

Fortunately for Santos, he can probably keep that cash.

New York has a "Son of Sam" law, which allows the state and criminal victims to block people convicted of crimes from profiting from their misdeeds. Santos is under a 23-count indictment for an array of alleged crimes related to his congressional campaign's finances. Santos has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is set to go to trial in September; his attorney didn't respond to a request for comment. The charges against Santos — plus a damning and embarrassing House Ethics Committee report that found, among other things, that he spent campaign funds on OnlyFans and Botox — led to Santos's historic expulsion from Congress.

The first version of New York's "Son of Sam" law was passed in the 1970s, out of fear that the tabloid-famous serial killer would get a book deal.

The version of the law currently on the books is rarely invoked. The most prominent example in recent years is when New York state froze accounts belonging to Anna Sorokin — also known as Anna Delvey — who had received $320,000 from Netflix for the rights to her life story after she operated her "fake heiress" scam. Authorities unfroze her assets once they verified she returned funds to the financial institutions she stole from.

Santos, luckily, can make his Cameo videos unencumbered. Because he was charged by US Justice Department prosecutors under federal criminal statutes, he isn't affected by the state's "Son of Sam" law, experts on the law told Business Insider.

Besides, the law requires a firm connection between the crime and the profit. Santos making money from his Cameo videos following his expulsion from Congress is a few degrees removed from the allegations described in the 42-page federal indictment against him, according to Dmitriy Shakhnevich, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

"The nexus between a murderer going to jail for murder, and a congressman elected to Congress and then subsequently indicted for crimes that relate to his candidacy, are a little different," Shakhnevich told Business Insider.

Santos's Cameo videos could cause trouble down the road

Prosecutors claim Santos committed a long list of misdeeds, including identity theft, credit card fraud, falsifying records submitted to Congress, and siphoning off campaign contributions for his personal benefit.

He is also notorious for a number of lies that are not necessarily part of the criminal charges, such as pretending he was on the Baruch College volleyball team, that his mother was at the World Trade Center on 9/11, and that he was an actor on "Hannah Montana."

The sheer range of contributions to Santos's notoriety would make it hard to argue that his Cameo money is directly derived from his alleged crimes, according to Matthew Mangino, an attorney at the law firm Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly, and George.

Mangino said it wouldn't be clear if Santos is capitalizing on his alleged fraud or his reputation as a terrible Congressman and liar.

"It's a little murkier than, say, some serial killer who murders eight people, and that's the reason for his notoriety, and he's out there trying to write a book or have a movie produced," Mangino told Business Insider.

But — the experts caution — the Cameo videos could cause trouble for Santos if he's found guilty and sentenced.

"He will be in federal court and, look, any lawyer worth his or her salt will tell a client, 'Don't talk to anybody while you have a criminal case pending — and certainly don't do Cameos,'" Shakhnevich said.

If Santos wanted to make a plea deal with prosecutors, or is convicted in a trial, the videos could work against him. A judge could take them as evidence that he didn't take his conduct seriously.

At this point, Mangino said, it's too late for Santos to argue that expulsion from Congress was a bad enough punishment.

"It's going to be tough to go in front of a judge if he's being sentenced and ask for some mitigation when he hasn't really taken the whole process seriously, and that he tried to profit by getting expelled from Congress," Mangino said. "So I don't see how this won't be bad for him in the future."

Read the original article on Business Insider