Rep. George Santos (R-NY) has made a deal with law enforcement in Brazil to avoid criminal prosecution for a case left open from 2008.
On Thursday, the New York Republican signed a deal with Brazilian prosecutors in which he confessed to theft and agreed to pay restitution. Authorities agreed to drop their criminal case against him in exchange.
He appeared virtually Thursday afternoon at a criminal court hearing in Niterói, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro, where he was given 30 days to pay about $2,000 in fines and $2,800 to the victim in order for his case to be dismissed.
“The case ended today,” his lawyer Jonymar Vasconcelos told the Washington Post. “My client is no longer facing any charges in Brazil.”
The case stems from 2008 when Santos, then 19 years old, lived in Rio with his mother Fatima Devolder, who then worked as a home health aide. Santos allegedly found two checks belonging to one of his mother’s clients, 82-year-old Délio da Câmara da Costa Alemão, in her purse, and used them to purchase clothes from a nearby clothing store under a pseudonym.
According to the merchant named Carlos Bruno Simões, Santos allegedly bought hundreds of dollars worth of clothes for a friend named Thiago. When Thiago tried to return them a few days later, Simões took the opportunity to look Thiago up on social media, where he found a photo of him with Santos bearing his real identity. He then reported the situation to the police.
“I remember because I had to pay that value out of my own pocket,” he told a Brazilian media outlet last year.
Santos later admitted that he’d stolen the checks and promised to reimburse him in installments. A Rio judge approved the charges against Santos in September 2011, but Santos reportedly left the country the following month and did not respond to subpoenas for testimony. The case was suspended in 2013, after repeatedly being unable to locate him.
Brazilian authorities revived the case back in January, when Santos made headlines for fabricating large swathes of his backstory.
Santos struck the deal a day after he was arrested by federal U.S. authorities on a 13-count indictment including fraud, money laundering, and theft. He pleaded not guilty in that case.
Simōes, who’d attended the hearing on Thursday, told the Washington Post that he was disappointed in how little Santos had to repay him.
“He got off super cheap,” he said.