Rep. George Santos fundraiser indicted for impersonating McCarthy aide

A man who was a paid campaign fundraiser for Rep. George Santos was indicted in New York on federal criminal charges related to his allegedly impersonating a top aide to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as he solicited donations for Santos.

The fundraiser, Samuel Miele, last Sept. 26 allegedly sent a letter to Santos “in which he admitted to ‘faking my identity to a big donor,’ but stated that he was ‘high risk, high reward in everything I do,’ ” according to the indictment in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Miele, who raised money for Santos’ campaigns in 2020 and 2022, was charged with four counts of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft in the six-page indictment, which was unsealed Wednesday.

Miele is accused of pretending to be McCarthy’s aide with the intention not only of getting campaign funds for Santos from more than a dozen potential contributors, but also to enrich himself on commissions of 15% that he earned on each donation.

His arrest comes three months after the New York Republican Santos himself was criminally charged in the same court by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn with fraud, theft, money laundering and making false statements.

Santos, who was first elected in 2022, represents a House district that covers parts of Queens in New York City, and Nassau County in Long Island. It is the wealthiest congressional district in New York state, and one of the wealthiest in the nation.

After his election, Santos was exposed as having lied repeatedly in claims he made about family, his education and work experience.

CNBC reported in January that Miele had made calls and sent emails to would-be donors while claiming to be Dan Meyer, McCarthy’s chief of staff, during the 2020 and 2022 election cycles, when Miele was raising funds for Santos’ House campaigns those years.

The indictment says that between August and December 2021, Miele “falsely and without authorization impersonated” a person who was “a high-ranking aide to a member of the House with leadership responsibilities.” At the time, McCarthy was the House minority leader.

Miele impersonated that person “for the purpose of soliciting contributions to the campaign and enriching himself through commissions earned,” the indictment says.

As part of the alleged scam, Miele created an email account being the first letter and full last name of McCarthy’s aide, and signed the emails with the aide’s full name and title.

Miele and his lawyer Kevin Marino did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the indictment. John Marzulli, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, declined to comment.

Miele was arraigned on the indictment and pleaded not guilty. He was released on $150,000 bail.

McCarthy, a California Republican, has defended Santos’ right to continue serving in the House even as he fights his own criminal charges.

In a tweet Wednesday responding to a tweet of this article, Rep. Dan Goldman, a Democrat who represents a district covering lower Manhattan and part of Brooklyn, blasted McCarthy.

“According to a federal indictment, George Santos paid someone to impersonate Kevin McCarthy’s chief of staff to raise money, yet McCarthy continues to protect Santos,” Goldman wrote.

“Pathetic and shameful.”

In a court filing Wednesday, prosecutors notified two judges in the Eastern District Court that the criminal cases against Santos and Miele “may be presumptively related because the facts of each case arise out of overlapping events.”

Because the cases are related, prosecutors wrote, “may be appropriate” to reassign them so that one judge is handling both which “may result in a significant savings of judicial resources and serve the interests of justice.”

– Additional reporting by CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger and Brian Schwartz


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