Alleged Santos Accomplice on the Run from Child Torture Charge

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: Rep. George Santos (R-NY) waits for an elevator as reporters ask him questions after departing from a House Republican Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023 in Was... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: Rep. George Santos (R-NY) waits for an elevator as reporters ask him questions after departing from a House Republican Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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There’s a dark coda to one of the latest tales in the legend of Rep. George Santos (R-NY). As you will remember, a good bit of December and January were taken up by the ongoing saga of Santos and the slow unraveling of a life made up of a long litany of fabrications and criminal behavior. One of the last big stories to come out on Santos was about his alleged role as a mastermind of an ATM fraud ring in Seattle, allegedly working with a one-time roommate named Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha.

Trelha was arrested for running the fraud scheme in 2017. Santos was questioned by investigators probing the scheme and he later testified on Ribeiro’s behalf. Trelha eventually pled guilty, served seven months in jail and was deported to Brazil in early 2018. Once Santos became an international sensation, Trelha came forward to submit a sworn declaration to federal authorities changing his story and now accusing Santos of being the mastermind of the fake ATM card racket.

But it turns out there’s a bit more to the story on Trelha himself, new details which don’t necessarily exonerate Santos but at least put Trelha’s credibility in more doubt. According to a new report in the Brazilian daily Folha, when Trelha submitted his sworn declaration he was actually a fugitive from Brazilian justice hiding out somewhere in Europe, possibly in France. A year ago Trelha was charged in Brazil with the alleged torture of a two-year-old child, the son of his live-in girlfriend, who was also charged in the case. The two-year-old boy was admitted to an emergency room in June 2019 with multiple skull fractures that appeared to be the result of one or more beatings.

Trelha, perhaps unsurprisingly, appears to be cast in the Santos mold, with a long history of criminal activity and fabricated stories about his past. He also has a reputation for violent behavior.

Folha also notes another detail. The declaration from Trelha appears to have been made through a Long Island law firm owned by Grant Lally, the publisher of the North Shore Leader. The Leader is that local Long Island paper that seemed to be on to Santos’s history of fabrications in advance of his election, at least in part through Lally’s connections in Long Island Republican circles. Lally himself once ran for the same seat that Santos won, New York’s 3rd district.

Trelha’s nominal lawyer, Mark Demetropoulos, sounded nervous and refused to discuss the matter when contact by Folha and abruptly hung up the phone, according to the Folha report.

None of the news accounts from earlier this month or Trelha’s sworn statement noted that he’s currently a fugitive from Brazilian justice.

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