As he’s sworn-in as a lawmaker Tuesday, Representative-elect George Santos (R-NY) will have the attention of international authorities: Brazilian law enforcement has been searching for the incoming congressman for years with an embezzlement charge. They intend to revive the case after he’s sworn-in with a formal request to the DOJ, the New York Times reported.
The case reportedly stems from 2008 when Santos was a 19-year-old living in Rio de Janeiro with his mother Fatima Devolder, then a home health aide. At the time, he allegedly found two checks that belonged to 82-year-old Délio da Câmara da Costa Alemão, a client of his mother’s, in her purse, and used them at a clothing store in nearby Niteroi.
Using the pseudonym “Delio,” Santos allegedly bought $700 worth of clothes and shoes for his then-boyfriend, “Thiago,” according to the cashier. When Thiago tried returning the clothes a few days later, the cashier reportedly used the opportunity to investigate the situation himself: He reportedly followed Thiago to his job, looked him up on social media, and found a photo of him with Santos bearing his real identity.
Santos reportedly admitted to the salesperson that he’d stolen the checks in August 2009, and told him that he’d reimburse him for the payments through installments. He wrote on social media at the time that he “screwed up” and wanted to pay what was owed. But when a Rio judge approved a charge against Santos in September 2011, he reportedly left the country a month later.
The new congressman’s trials and tribulations have been a national spectacle since the New York Times dropped their bombshell investigation in mid-December. He’s already attracted the unwanted attention of federal and local authorities in the state of New York; now that Brazilian authorities finally know where he is, he’s gained their attention as well.
Last week, Delio—I mean, Santos denied the accusations in an interview with the New York Post. “I am not a criminal here—not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world,” he said. “Absolutely not. That didn’t happen.”