Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., pleaded not guilty to charges in the U.S. on Wednesday, and he saw his troubles only grow from there.
On Thursday, Santos signed an agreement with public prosecutors in Brazil to avoid prosecution for forging two stolen checks in 2008.
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However, Santos offered the prosecutors a concession. He confessed to theft.
“What would have been the start of a case was ended today,” Santos’ lawyer in Brazil, Jonymar Vasconcelos, told The Associated Press in a text message. “As such, my client is no longer the subject of any case in Brazil.”
Both the defense and the prosecution have remained quiet on this case, which was still reportedly under a gag order as of Thursday.
In other words, the involved parties have yet to disclose some key details of the non-prosecution agreement, a type of deal allowed for certain non-violent offenses in Brazil.
Without citing any sources, the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported the terms of the non-prosecution agreement. The paper said that Santos is set to pay 24,000 Brazilian reais (almost $5,000), with the majority going to the recipient of the fraudulent checks and the remainder to charities.
Court records in Brazil, first uncovered by The New York Times, show Santos was the subject of a criminal charge for using two stolen checks to buy items at a shop in the city of Niteroi, including a pair of sneakers later given to a friend. At the time, Santos would have been 19. The purchase totaled 2,144 Brazilian reais, then equal to about $1,350, according to the charge prosecutors filed in 2011.
That followed an investigation opened in 2008 and Santos’ signed confession, in which he admitted to having stolen the checkbook of his mother’s former employer from her purse and making purchases, including in the store, and recognizing the fraudulent checks as those he had signed, according to the court documents reviewed by the AP.
A judge accepted the charges against Santos in 2011, but subsequent subpoenas for him to appear personally or present a written defense went unanswered and, with authorities repeatedly unable to determine his whereabouts, the case was suspended in 2013. That changed after he won a U.S. congressional seat and the subsequent flurry of media attention focused on his dubious credentials. Rio state prosecutors then petitioned to reopen the case.
In fact, some conservatives have bemoaned the amount of media scutiny into Santos, especially given the relative lack of media attention on the House Oversight Committee’s recent announcements regarding its investigation into the Biden family’s finances.
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Resolution of the case removes the possibility Santos might have been obliged to travel to another country to resolve pending charges; that could have been complicated after he was forced to surrender his passport after recent, unrelated charges in the U.S.
Santos met with the Brazilian prosecutors virtually, according to Folha de S.Paulo.
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The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.