A former campaign staffer for Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., has pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud charges related to a fraudulent scheme involving impersonating a top aide to then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
The scandal has added another layer of complexity to the ongoing legal troubles the embattled congressman faces.
In August, Samuel Miele, 27, was charged with wire fraud and identity theft for allegedly posing as a key aide to Speaker McCarthy while soliciting donations for Santos’ 2022 campaign.
Prosecutors revealed that Miele exploited this false identity to secure contributions from over a dozen potential donors, pocketing 15% commissions on each donation for personal gain.
In his guilty plea, Miele admitted to impersonating the Chief of Staff to the Speaker of the House and charging credit cards without authorization for campaign contributions.
The plea form disclosed that Miele caused approximately $100,000 to be set to several donors’ credit cards between November 2020 and January 2023, using some of these funds for his expenses and campaign contributions to “Candidate #1” – Rep. George Santos.
As part of the plea deal, Miele agreed to pay $109,171 in restitution, $69,136 in forfeiture, and an additional $470,000 to a campaign contributor. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, with sentencing scheduled for April 30.
Congressman George Santos’ Response
While Santos’ attorney, Joe Murray, attended the court proceedings, no immediate comment was provided.
Santos, who is facing fraud charges, previously stated that he terminated Miele’s employment in 2021 upon discovering the fraudulent activities of the McCarthy aide.
Santos, already charged with 13 counts in May, faced another ten charges in a superseding indictment after his former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, pleaded guilty to charges involving campaign form falsification.
Santos has pleaded not guilty to all orders, asserting that the accusations are part of a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
Despite acknowledging the fabrication and exaggeration of parts of his background, Santos survived a recent attempt by fellow House Republicans from New York to expel him from Congress.
The scandal casts a shadow over Santos’ political career, raising questions about the integrity of campaign practices and the consequences of unethical behavior within political circles.