Santos ex-campaign aide pleads guilty to wire fraud, admits to impersonating top House aide

Santos ex-campaign aide pleads guilty to wire fraud, admits to impersonating top House aide
Republican U.S. Rep. George Santos. (Photo courtesy of the Santos campaign)

An ex-campaign aide to Rep. George Santos pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to wire fraud and admitted to impersonating former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s former chief of staff Dan Meyer as part of a plea deal.

“This defendant misrepresented himself as a high-ranking congressional aide to deceive political donors and used their money to pad his own pocket and the coffers of a candidate,” Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said. “The integrity of fundraising practices is essential for fair elections. We stand alongside our federal partners to protect our electoral institutions and are proud to assist in this prosecution.”

The Department of Justice said that Samuel Miele, 27, admitted to committing access device fraud by charging credit cards for campaign contributions without authorization.

This was done for Santos’ campaign and the campaigns of other candidates who were unnamed by the Department of Justice and for his own personal use.

Miele’s admittance was part of his guilty plea, according to the Department of Justice.

Along with his guilty plea, Miele agreed to pay $109,171 in restitution, $69,136 in forfeiture and a separate stipulated payment of $470,000 to a contributor, according to the Department of Justice.

Miele faces upwards of 20 years in prison.

His guilty plea comes just a month after Santos’ ex-campaign treasurer pled guilty to conspiring with “a congressional candidate” to commit wire fraud, make materially false statements, obstruct the administration of the Federal Election Commission and commit aggravated identity theft. The “congressional candidate” is apparent to be Santos.

The Department of Justice said Miele would impersonate Meyer while soliciting campaign contributions for Santos.

The indictment unsealed in August identifies four emails Miele allegedly sent to four people who contributed to Santos’ campaign between Aug. 19 and Oct. 22, 2021. Miele received a 15% commission on each contribution he solicited, prosecutors previously said.

Through the “fraudulent scheme” Miele was able to solicit contributions from over a dozen people, prosecutors said.

Miele, in a letter to Santos last September, admitted he faked his identity to “a big donor” and that he was “high risk, high reward in everything I do,” according to court documents.

Meyer, who is no longer working for McCarthy, was not named in the indictment, but it does say Miele did not have permission to use his identity for fundraising purposes.

“The defendant used fraud and deceit to steal more than one hundred thousand dollars from his victims, funneling this money into the campaign committees of candidates for the House, and into his own pockets,” United States Attorney Breon Peace said. “Defrauding potential political contributors undermines our democracy, and we will vigorously prosecute such conduct.”

Miele was fired by the Santos campaign after the scheme was exposed, The New York Times previously reported.

One57 Group, a company managed by Miele, was paid $43,000 by the Santos campaign and $10,000 by the Rise NY PAC, which was created in December 2020 by the campaign.

Miele’s case was heard at the federal courthouse in Central Islip and held before United States District Judge Joanna Seybert.

The case is being investigated by the FBI in collaboration with the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office.

Miele’s case is being prosecuted by the same legal team overseeing the case against Santos, who pleaded not guilty in May to a 13-count indictment, which includes allegations of wire fraud, theft of public funds and making false statements to Congress.

Prosecutors said in a letter filed in August that the cases should be presumed to be related “because the facts of each case arise out of overlapping events.”

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