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Family members backed the $500,000 bond that freed Rep. Santos from jail

Rep. George Santos (R-NY3) speaking to reporters outside a federal courthouse on Long Island in May after he was charged with 13 federal crimes.
Brian Mann
Rep. George Santos (R-NY3) speaking to reporters outside a federal courthouse on Long Island in May after he was charged with 13 federal crimes.

One of the many mysteries swirling around New York's embattled Republican Rep. George Santos has finally been resolved.

A federal court on Long Island today released of the names of two individuals who backed a $500,000 bond for Santos.

Turns out one was his father, Gercino dos Santos Jr. The other was his aunt Elma Santos Preven.

Their support allowed Santos to walk free after he was charged on May 10th with 13 crimes including fraud, money-laundering and theft. He pleaded not guilty.

Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee released a statement Thursday saying its investigation of Santos is running parrallel to the Justice Department's prosecution.

"The Committee is aware of the risks associated with dual investigations and is in communication with the Department of Justice to mitigate the potential risks," the panel's leaders said in a statement.

They noted that roughly 40 subpoenas have been issued and said their probe is is expanding to include allegations Santos "fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits."

Santos family members bailed him out

For weeks, the identity of Santos's bond backers remained unknown, sparking widespread speculation. On May 25, a group of news organizations including NPR asked the court to make their names public.

Santos and his attorney argued that releasing the names would expose the congressman's backers to a public backlash and could put them at risk of "attacks and harassment."

"There is great concern for the health, safety, and well-being" of the individuals, wrote Joseph Murray, Santos's attorney, in a court filing.

Attorneys representing media outlets argued in a legal filing that transparency serves the public interest.

"That the identities ... have been shielded from public scrutiny, particularly in light of the specific charges against Rep. Santos, only breeds suspicion that [they] could be lobbyists, donors, or even fellow-congressmen or public officials seeking to exert influence," wrote Jeremy Chase and Alexandra Settelmayer with the firm Davis Wright Tremaine.

Two federal judges sided with news organizations, leading to Thursday's release of names.

Investigations continue

Santos won election last November in New York's 3rd Congressional District. Shortly after, news accounts revealed that he fabricated much of his personal and professional resume, lying about his family's heritage, his education and his professional accomplishments.

Those actions sparked numerous local, state and federal investigations.

In its statement today the House Ethics Committee outlined the scope of its probe, to include possible "unlawful activity" during Santos's 2022 congressional campaign, violation of federal conflict of interest laws, and sexual misconduct allegations in olving "an individual seeking employment in his congressional office."

Indeed, financial backing of Santos' bond was only one unanswered question about the sources of his money. Critics say it's also unclear how he funded his congressional campaign and how he spent that money.

Santos has acknowledged some of his deceptions but repeatedly denied any criminal wrongdoing.

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Brian Mann
Brian Mann is NPR's first national addiction correspondent. He also covers breaking news in the U.S. and around the world.