GOP Rep. George Santos says he is innocent of latest criminal allegation

File Photo: “Innocent,” Rep. George Santos (R-NY) told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I’ve never done anything criminal, and I don’t have a mastermind event.”

By Fredreka Schouten and Nicky Robertson | CNN

Embattled Rep. George Santos said Friday he was “innocent” of allegations he orchestrated a credit card skimming operation in Seattle in 2017 that led to a Brazilian man’s guilty plea and deportation.

“Innocent,” the New York Republican told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I’ve never done anything criminal, and I don’t have a mastermind event.”

His denials came a day after Politico released an affidavit that said Gustavo Ribeiro had submitted Trelha to the FBI and other federal law enforcement officials this week, claiming that Santos oversaw the skimming operation.

Trelha, identified by Politico as Santos’ former roommate, pleaded guilty to “access device fraud” in Seattle in 2017, federal records show. He was arrested earlier this year after using a credit card skimming device and an electronic camera at ATMs to “secretly steal users’ credit and debit card numbers” and record them as they entered their PIN numbers when they used the ATMs, federal prosecutors said in court filings.

In the statement, Trelha claimed Santos taught him how to clone ATMs and credit cards and the two agreed on a 50:50 split of earnings.

CNN has not verified the authenticity of Trelha’s statement, and the New York attorney representing Trelha has not returned multiple emails and phone calls.

CNN has also reached out to the FBI and Justice Department for comment.

On Friday, Santos told reporters that he had provided information to federal agencies related to the Seattle fraud investigation.

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“I’ve worked with Secret Service, the FBI, and anyone who has reached out to me for help. I have information for you. All were arrested and deported,” he said.

Santos also tried to distance himself from Trelha, denying the two were ever roommates and saying he’d only met him “a few times in my life.”

Santos appeared in court on Trelha’s behalf in 2017, according to an audio recording of the bail hearing obtained by CNN. At the hearing, Santos described Trelha as a “family friend”.


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