Allegations of credit card fraud can bring the Long Island conman
After managing to wriggle out of consequences for his litany of lies, perhaps Con(gress)man George Santos may finally be running out of luck. Former associate Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha has sent federal authorities a sworn declaration attesting to the fact that Santos was in fact the mastermind behind a Seattle credit card skimming plot that got Trelha arrested six years ago and eventually deported to Brazil.
What’s been most vexing about Santos’ rise atop a mountain of deceit is that it has exposed the extent to which our electoral process relies on what is fundamentally a version of the honor system. Despite how flagrant the congressman’s conduct was, he hadn’t broken any laws, and it seemed like he would be free to keep dodging reporters by ducking into elevators and nominally representing his district, which had really voted for a different, entirely fabricated person than the person they got, at least until he got booted out of office in 2024.
If Trelha is telling the truth, Santos actually did violate specific criminal laws, and the relevant authorities should take this gift-wrapped declaration and pursue it aggressively. Santos flew to Seattle to appear before the court in Trelha’s case and lied to the judge about working at Goldman Sachs. The U.S. Secret Service and federal prosecutors should be able to chase down leads like the warehouse he allegedly kept the credit card skimming material.
There’s little doubt that Santos will claim he’s the victim of a political witch hunt, the response du jour for MAGA types who want to evade consequences for their actions. As with any other high-profile case — or any criminal case, for that matter — law enforcement should make sure that it dots the i’s and crosses the t’s if it decides to bring the book down on him.
Calls for Santos to be expelled from the House for his fabrications raises thorny questions about the potential to punish speech. Expulsion after being convicted of out-and-out theft, on the other hand, is much more straightforward.