Santos’ Former Campaign Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy Charge
NEW YORK — The former treasurer for the election campaign of U.S. Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to defraud after admitting she helped to report fake loans the New York Republican claimed he made to his campaign.
The reports were given to the Federal Election Commission to show Santos met financial criteria required for his 2022 campaign to qualify for funding from the Republican National Committee.
Santos won the election with help from the committee but later was found to have lied about his background as well as his sources of personal income. He refused to resign despite calls from fellow Republicans and New York residents who voted for him.
Nancy Marks, a former Santos aide, pleaded guilty in federal court in New York, which included an admission that she conspired with Santos to report that he loaned his campaign $500,000. Santos did not have the personal funds to make the loan.
Prosecutors said in court filings that Marks and Santos “devised and executed a fraudulent scheme to obtain money for the campaign by submitting materially false reports to the FEC on behalf of the campaign in which they inflated the campaign’s fundraising numbers for the purpose of misleading the [Federal Election Commission], a national party committee and the public.”
The court filings do not mention Santos but the references to his election campaign leave no other conclusion. His successful 2022 campaign followed a failed run for Congress two years earlier.
Marks’ guilty plea is only the latest blow to the embattled congressman’s image for lacking integrity.
A federal grand jury indicted Santos in May on charges of wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and lying to Congress. He pleaded not guilty.
At various times, Santos claimed to be a banker for the investment firm Goldman Sachs, a grandson of Holocaust survivors, the son of a financial executive who was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center and a top-tier graduate of Baruch College.
All of the claims have been proven false.
He reported that his main source of income was a family business he founded called the Devolder Organization. His financial disclosure forms said he managed $80 million in investment funds.
Before the organization was dissolved in 2022, Santos said he received an annual salary of $750,000 from Devolder and dividends exceeding $1 million.
His financial disclosure forms for his election campaign did not list any clients. In July 2022, the financial firm Dun & Bradstreet estimated his revenue at less than $50,000.
Santos has admitted he “embellished” his resume but denies lying.
As Marks pleaded guilty Thursday, she read from a prepared statement that said information she gave the Federal Election Commission included a falsified list of donors to Santos’ campaign. Some of them were members of Santos’ and Marks’ families.
“The donors, who are real people, didn’t give me permission to use their names,” said Marks, who also is a board member of a library on Long Island, New York.
Prosecutors are recommending she be sentenced to 3 1/2 to four years in prison. Marks has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in testifying against Santos for his upcoming criminal trial.
When he was indicted in May, Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly said in a statement, “At the height of the pandemic in 2020, George Santos allegedly applied for and received unemployment benefits while he was employed and running for Congress. As charged in the indictment, the defendant’s alleged behavior continued during his second run for Congress when he pocketed campaign contributions and used that money to pay down personal debts and buy designer clothing.”