US Rep. George Santos has signed a deal with Brazilian authorities to avoid prosecution in lieu of a confession, reimbursement for the victim and a fine to the state stemming from a 2008 fraud case, his attorney said.
“From now on, he is not answering to any lawsuits in Brazil,” his attorney Jonymar Vasconcelos said at the Niterói courthouse outside Rio de Janeiro.
Documents obtained by CNN in January showed Santos, a New York Republican, confessed to defrauding a Rio de Janeiro area clerk of $1,300 over clothes and shoes in 2008.
Santos will pay a total of approximately $4,878.45. Of this amount, approximately $2,000 will go to the government as a fine and $2,800 to the victim, Bruno Simões, who told reporters that Santos has 30 days to make the payment via bank transfer. Simões told CNN that the government’s share of the payment will go to charity.
Santos appeared via video conference, and according to Simões, the judge unmuted Santos and asked if he confessed to the crimes described in the case, to which Santos replied he did.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s a bargain, the guy paid $500,00 dollars in bail,” Simões told CNN after the hearing, referring to Santos’ criminal case in the US. The congressman on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to 13 US federal charges, including money laundering, wire fraud, theft of public funds and lying to the House of Representatives.
“Honestly, he must have laughed. Because 14,000 Brazilian Reais is $2,000 – that’s one suit that he wears. But despite it all, I am happy that this chapter is closed,” Simões said.
A source familiar with the case and Rio de Janeiro state law said the fine was more than seven times the average amount charged in fines for similar cases.
In January, Santos’ attorney requested the deal in a petition that said Santos would agree to formally confess to the crime and pay damages to the victim as is required under Brazilian law in order to avoid prosecution.
A memo from Brazilian prosecutors agreeing to the deal in March asked the defense for assurances that they have the ability to contact the victim to repay him before the deal is finalized.
In a statement to CNN in March, the prosecutors’ office acknowledged the memo but stressed that the deal is not final until all conditions are met.
The case is under gag order.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Sydney Kashiwagi contributed to this report.