N.Y. Rep. George Santos' former fundraiser pleads guilty to wire fraud


Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Sam Miele, the second person charged alongside embattled Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of wire fraud while admitting he impersonated an aide to former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Miele, 27, appeared before a federal judge in Central Islip, N.Y., and admitted to the fund-raising scheme in the fall of 2021 that involved impersonating an unidentified aide in order to solicit funds for Santos.

"Between August and December 2021, I pretended I was chief of staff to the then leader of the House of Representatives," Miele said. "I did that to raise funds for the campaign I was working on."

According to prosecutors, Miele claimed to be a "high ranking aide to a member of the House with leadership responsibilities," in emails and phone calls. Miele admitted he committed access device fraud by charging credit cards without authorization and was paid 15% for whatever he brought in.

"The defendant used fraud and deceit to steal more than $100,000 from his victims, funneling this money into the campaign committees of candidates for the House and into his own pockets," U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said Tuesday.

Santos has said he was not aware of Miele's fundraising scheme and fired Miele shortly after learning about it from Republican leadership.

In August, Miele was charged with four counts of wire fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft.

While it remains unclear whether Miele's guilty plea Tuesday is part of a deal to testify against Santos, Miele has agreed to pay $109,171 in restitution, $69,136 in forfeiture and a payment of $470,000 to a contributor. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison when he is sentenced April 30.

Miele is the second person alongside Santos to plead guilty. Nancy Marks, Santos' campaign treasurer, pleaded guilty last month.

Santos pleaded not guilty last month to a 23-count federal indictment, accusing him of unlawful monetary transactions, identity theft, donor credit card theft and a false $500,000 campaign loan report.

Two weeks ago, Santos survived the U.S. House of Representatives' second attempt to oust him, as most Republicans voted to save the beleaguered congressman amid concerns his expulsion before a criminal proceeding would set a dangerous precedent.