Embattled freshman Congress member Rep. George Santos (R-NY) signed an agreement Thursday in Brazil to avoid prosecution for forging two stolen checks in 2008 when he was 19.
That deal with public prosecutors was struck one day after Santos pleaded not guilty to 13 criminal counts in federal court in New York.
When asked about the non-prosecution agreement by the Associated Press, Santos’ attorney in Brazil, Jonymar Vasconcelos, declined to go into detail, noting that the case had proceeded under seal.
Vasconcelos said in a text message, “[M]y client is no longer the subject of any case in Brazil.”
In January the New York Times had revealed Brazilian court records showing that Santos had been criminally charged in 2011 for using two stolen checks to buy items at a shop in the city of Niteroi, including a pair of sneakers that he gifted to a friend. The purchase totaled in Brazilian currency what was then equal to about $1,350.
A judge accepted the charges against Santos in 2011, but subsequent subpoenas for him to appear personally or present a written defense went unanswered. The case was suspended in 2013 only to be reopened after Santos was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2022.
Santos was released on $500,000 bond on Wednesday after pleading not guilty in New York’s Eastern District Court to seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives.
According to prosecutors, Santos falsely claimed to have been unemployed in in the summer of 2020 when he applied for benefits through the New York State Department of Labor. He continued to falsely certify his unemployment through the following spring, according to prosecutors, and received more than $24,000 in U.S. Treasury benefits as part of expanded Covid-19 social programs.
Further, Santos tricked his political supporters into giving him money and spent thousands of dollars on designer cloths and credit card payments, prosecutors said.
In early March, the House Ethics Committee launched a probe into Santos’ alleged misconduct. A special legislative subcommittee is looking into “whether Representative George Santos may have: engaged in unlawful activity with respect to his 2022 congressional campaign; failed to properly disclose required information on statements filed with the House; violated federal conflict of interest laws in connection with his role in a firm providing fiduciary services; and/or engaged in sexual misconduct towards an individual seeking employment in his congressional office.”
Santos filed for reelection in 2024 on March 14.