Gay Republican U.S. Rep.-elect George Santos looks to be in facing legal challenges in Brazil, according to The New York Times.
Santos is set to be sworn in on Tuesday as the congressman for New York's Third Congressional District, which includes a large portion of Long Island. He is the first out Republican to win an election who is not an incumbent.
The paper reported on Monday that Brazilian authorities have said they will revive fraud charges against the controversial politician who has been under fire after a Times investigation began unraveling various parts of his biography. The lies that Santos allegedly told have led local and federal prosecutors in the U.S. to look into whether he was involved in criminal activity.
An earlier investigation found that Santos was accused of using a stolen checkbook, but the 2008 incident didn't go anywhere in the country's legal system because authorities couldn't find Santos.
Now law enforcement in Brazil says that once Santos has been found there will be a request sent to the U.S. Justice Department to alert Santos to the charges. From there, the case will start regardless of whether Santos is in Brazil or not.
The Times reports:
Just a month before his 20th birthday, Mr. Santos entered a small clothing store in the Brazilian city of Niteroi outside Rio de Janeiro. He spent nearly $700 using a stolen checkbook and a false name, court records show.
Mr. Santos admitted the fraud to the shop owner in August 2009, writing on Orkut, a popular social media website in Brazil, "I know I screwed up, but I want to pay." In 2010, he and his mother told the police that he had stolen the checkbook of a man his mother used to work for, and used it to make fraudulent purchases.
In 2011, a judge approved the charges, but Santos was already in the U.S. by then. The paper notes that even with the earlier confession, Santos recently told the New York Post, "I am not a criminal here -- not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world."
From here, Brazilian prosecutors said they will seek a response from Santos about the charges. The paper notes that a criminal conviction wouldn't bar a person from becoming a member of Congress.
If convicted of the charges, Santos could face five years in prison and a fine.
Responding to the news of the charges being revived in Brazil, Santos's lawyer, Joe Murray, told the Times, "I am in the process of engaging local counsel to address this alleged complaint against my client."
Santos's financial dealings have also been scrutinized with campaign costs including $40,000 in flights and rent -- possibly to the place where he's living, which could be a violation of campaign finance laws.
His lies include going to college, working for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and owning more than a dozen properties. He also was married to a woman for several years, but never disclosed that while campaigning in a failed 2020 campaign and then his successful one in November.