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George Santos’ father and aunt identified as bond backers

<i>Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images</i><br/>New York Rep. George Santos is pictured walking to a meeting at the US Capitol in Washington
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
New York Rep. George Santos is pictured walking to a meeting at the US Capitol in Washington

By Mark Morales, Lauren del Valle and Fredreka Schouten, CNN

(CNN) — A federal judge on Thursday unsealed the identities of the co-signers on embattled Rep. George Santos’ $500,000 bond that allowed the New York Republican to stay out of federal custody after he was charged in a 13-count indictment.

The guarantors were listed as Elma Santos Preven and Gercino Dos Santos, according to signatures on the court documents that were unsealed. A law enforcement official confirmed to CNN that the guarantors were Santos’ aunt and father, respectively.

Neither relative secured the bond with cash or property, according to a court order that was among the documents unsealed Thursday. But Santos’ father and aunt “agreed to be personally responsible” for the congressman’s compliance with the terms of his release, the order noted.

Court records made available Friday show that Judge Anne Y. Shields went over the conditions of the bond with Santos’ father and aunt in May. Shields told the pair that Santos had restrictions he could not violate, including on his travel and not having any communication with four unidentified people. A violation could damage their credit and hinder them from getting a mortgage, and they would owe the government $500,000, according to the court records.

Santos was released on bond and ordered to surrender his passport in May after pleading not guilty to 13 federal charges – seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives.

The family members’ names were revealed Thursday after Santos and his lawyer lost an appeal to keep the identities of the bond co-signers under seal. Santos had argued that he needed to shield his bond co-signers to protect their privacy and risked having them with withdraw their support once their names became public.

“My whole thing around keeping the suretors secret was for their safety,” Santos told reporters in Washington, DC, on Thursday. “Because of the death threats I get. I can handle that – I ran for public office. They did not. They’re private citizens.”

Santos’ father, who lives in New York, has donated to his son’s political campaigns in the past and has been listed in federal filings as working as a painter or in construction, Federal Election Commission records show. He also has been listed as retired.

Santos Preven, who also has donated to her nephew’s congressional campaign, was described as a mail handler for the US Postal Service, in an FEC donation record from October 2021. She also was listed as having a New York address.

Both were told by the judge to “check in” with Santos to make sure he knew he was only allowed to travel to New York and Washington, DC, unless he got special permission from pretrial services. The judge also told the pair they needed to know where Santos is at all times, the records show.

Santos’ father described his relationship with the congressman as ‘cordial” and “not problematic at all.” His aunt told the judge she and her nephew had a “good relationship even though I don’t speak with him on a regular basis.”

House rules allow lawmakers to receive gifts from a broad array of extended relatives, including aunts, uncles, first cousins and in-laws without violating restrictions on receiving gifts.

Santos is currently in his first term representing New York’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Long Island. His astonishing pattern of lies and fabrications, which stunned even hardened politicos, led top Democrats and some New York Republicans to call for his resignation earlier this year. But Santos has refused those calls and has said he plans to seek reelection next year.

Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee said Thursday it is working on an “expeditious timeframe” to investigate the allegations against Santos and has issued nearly three dozen subpoenas and more than 40 voluntary requests for information on the GOP congressman.

The panel said in March that it had voted to set up an investigative subcommittee with authority to look into a number of issues, including whether Santos may have engaged in unlawful activity related to his 2022 congressional campaign. An attempt to expel Santos from the House was unsuccessful in May after the full chamber voted to refer the Democratic-led resolution to the Ethics Committee.

This story and headline have been updated with additional information.

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CNN’s Haley Talbot, Manu Raju and Kristin Wilson contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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