US Rep. George Santos was charged with theft in Pennsylvania in 2017 after several bad checks written in his name went to dog breeders in Amish country, according to a lawyer friend who helped him navigate the case.
The case was confirmed as “theft by deception” by the York County District Attorney’s Office, which told CNN it was later dismissed.
But it marks the latest disclosure about the embattled New York Republican whose short tenure in Congress has been dominated by questions about his repeated fabrications about his background and resume and inquiries about his campaign finances.
Santos is facing multiple investigations, including an FBI probe into allegations that he took off with money raised through his pet charity to provide medical care for the dying dog of a veteran.
CNN has reached out to Santos’ congressional office and to his personal attorney. Last month, in response to reports about the dying dog, Santos tweeted that his work in “animal advocacy was the labor of love and hard work” and called the allegations “shocking and insane.”
The Pennsylvania case, first reported by Politico, centered on a series of nine checks totaling more than $15,000 that went to the dog breeders, according to Tiffany Bogosian, a childhood friend of Santos and personal-injury lawyer who said she assisted Santos in February 2020 after he was served with an extradition warrant.
She said she sent an email to a Pennsylvania state trooper, a copy of which she provided to CNN, on Santos’ behalf, outlining his contention that one of his four checkbooks had gone missing before the bad checks had been written.
“He immediately called his bank upon learning 1/4 check books was missing and all checks were canceled at that time, with a stop pay on all checks,” Bogosian wrote at the time. She said Santos had been the “victim of fraud” as had the people who received the checks. She also attached copies of the checks, several of which said “puppies” in the memo field.
She said she did not formally serve as Santos’ attorney and could not represent him in the Pennsylvania matter, as she is not licensed to practice in the state.
In an interview Thursday with CNN, Bogosian said Santos later told her that the charges had been dismissed.
Kyle King, a spokesperson for the York County district attorney, told CNN that the case was listed as “withdrawn or dismissed.”
Bogosian, who attended junior high school with Santos, said she no longer believes Santos’ account about what transpired with the checks.
And in recent weeks, she has emerged as a vocal critic of the congressman. “I’m going to expose him to the fullest degree as much as I can,” she said Thursday.
Earlier this year, in an interview with The Washington Post, she described an effort by Santos to persuade one of her clients, Christian Lopez, to invest in Harbor City Capital Corp. Santos worked at the firm in 2020 and 2021. Lopez had been awarded $2 million in insurance money after being injured when a drunk driver smashed into his parked car. Lopez told CNN that Santos wouldn’t offer details on where the money would be invested, and he declined to invest.
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint in April 2021 against Harbor City and its founder, Jonathan P. Maroney, alleging the company ran a $17 million “Ponzi scheme.”
Neither Santos nor other employees are named in the SEC complaint. Santos has maintained that he was unaware and not involved in any potential wrongdoing at the company.
On Thursday, Bogosian said she and Lopez were interviewed last month by the Securities and Exchange Commission investigators in relation to Harbor City.