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Court gives Santos more freedom to travel in DC area

Lawyer cited need to leave the city for dining, shopping, airports

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., applauds during Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber on Wednesday.
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., applauds during Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A federal magistrate on Wednesday gave indicted Rep. George Santos more freedom to travel in the Washington area without giving the government a heads-up after his lawyer cited a need to shop, attend dinners and use the local airports, among other reasons.

The New York Republican, who is facing over a dozen federal criminal charges, had been required to give the government notice if he wanted to travel anywhere in the continental U.S. other than New York City, Long Island or Washington, D.C.

Santos’ lawyer, Joseph Murray, wrote to Magistrate Judge Anne Shields on Wednesday saying the congressman frequently needs to travel outside the District.

“In light of the small geographical area of the District of Columbia, there is a frequent need to travel outside the District of Columbia for usual and customary functions of someone who lives and works in the District of Columbia, such as dining, shopping, meetings, events, and even use of the local airports,” Murray said in a court filing.

“This has resulted in unnecessary notifications which can easily be remedied by extending the geographical area in which my client can freely move about without providing prior notice, to include a thirty-mile radius around the District of Columbia.”

Shields issued an order “to extend the area in which Defendant may travel to include a 30 mile radius of the District of Columbia.” The order said the government agreed to the change. The three airports that serve Washington are outside the District, in Maryland and Virginia.

Santos, who was indicted in May, is alleged to have engaged in a scheme wherein he defrauded campaign supporters by having them contribute money to a company under the guise that the funds would go to his campaign. Instead, the indictment alleges, Santos spent thousands of those dollars on personal expenses such as luxury designer clothes and credit card payments.

Santos is also alleged to have directed a political consultant to falsely tell campaign supporters that money sent to a certain company — one Santos had a stake in — would be used in furtherance of the campaign. That consultant did so with emails, texts and phone calls to potential donors, the indictment says.

Santos also fraudulently obtained over $24,000 in unemployment benefits, the indictment alleges. He also lied on his financial disclosure statements about his earned and unearned income, and how much was in his savings and checking accounts, according to the indictment.

He faces 13 criminal charges: five counts of wire fraud in the form of fraudulent campaign contribution solicitations; three counts of money laundering; one count of theft of public money; two counts of wire fraud regarding fraudulent application for and receipt of unemployment benefits; and two counts of false statements for lying on his House financial disclosure statements.

Santos is out on $500,000 bond guaranteed by his father and aunt.

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