Lying Congressman George Santos would rather go to jail than reveal the names of the people who secured the $500,000 bond in his criminal case, his lawyer said in a Monday night filing.
The Long Island Republican was released on bail May 10 after pleading not guilty to wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and making false statements to Congress, but his suretors never appeared in open court to sign his bond — as is typical in federal criminal cases.
Several media outlets have filed motions to release the names of the suretors and any judicial records about their bond proceedings, which apparently took place under seal, on common law and First Amendment grounds.
In a motion Monday, Santos’ lawyer Joseph Murray objected to the release of their names, asking Long Island Federal Court Magistrate Judge Anne Shields to give the two suretors a heads-up if they must be identified so they could back out to avoid being outed in public.
“If this Court is so inclined to unseal the sureties, we truly fear for their health, safety and well being,” he wrote. “My client would rather surrender to pretrial detainment than subject these suretors to what will inevitably come.”
The allegations against Santos pertain to a 2020 scheme to collect COVID-related unemployment funds while working as an investment firm director; a campaign finance fraud operation in which he used donor money to buy designer clothes and pay his personal debts; and a string of lies to Congress about his assets and income.
“The public interest in openness is particularly strong in this case. The surety records relate to three individuals who have committed large sums of money to ensure that Rep. Santos can remain at liberty, pending further proceedings,” wrote Dana Green, the senior counsel for the New York Times. “This presents an obvious opportunity for political influence, given Rep. Santos’s elected position and his dependence on these suretors.”
Santos lied about his education, religion, family history, professional experience and property ownership as he ran for office in 2022, but soon after his victory, his fictional resume was exposed, piece by piece, turning him into a national punchline.
Murray argued that the high-profile nature of the case poses a risk to anyone who would sign Santos’ bond and quoted several nasty letters and messages he’s received. He also said that a threat had been called in to the Capitol Police.
He also contended that one of the initial three suretors Santos lined up had a change of heart after news of his indictment broke before it was unsealed.
“They all also expressed concern and fear of losing their jobs if they were forced to be identified,” Murray wrote. “The others did not appear at the arraignment on May 10, 2023. Instead, we made other confidential arrangements with the cooperation of (Assistant U.S. Attorney) Anthony Bagnuola and the court.”
Federal prosecutors took no position Friday on whether the suretors names should be revealed.
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