A former fundraiser for Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., is facing wire fraud and identity theft for allegedly impersonating a high-ranking congressional aide, Fox News has learned.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn say Miele impersonated the former Chief of Staff of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy while soliciting contributions for Santos’ campaign.
FILE: Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., speaks to reporters outside after an effort to expel him from the House, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 17, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Miele was charged with four counts of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in an alleged scheme to defraud donors and obtain money for Santos under false pretenses. He was arraigned Wednesday morning and released on $150,000 bail.
Prosecutors said Miele used a fake name and email address to trick at least a dozen prospective donors. Santos was not charged in the case. The indictment did not name the person who was impersonated by name.
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Miele pleaded not guilty to the charges in Brooklyn federal court and was released on a $150,000 bond.
Miele’s attorney, Kevin Marino, said his client “is not guilty of these charges.”
“He looks forward to complete vindication at trial as soon as possible,” Marino said.
Santos’ office referred all questions to his campaign.
FILE: Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., is seen before Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India addressed a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, June 22, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Federal prosecutors said Miele admitted to “faking my identity to a big donor” in a letter sent to Santos last Sept. 26, a few months before Santos was elected. Miele said he was “high risk, high reward in everything I do,” according to the indictment.
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Miele earned a commission of 15% for each contribution he raised, prosecutors said.
The indictment comes three months after Santos was arrested on charges of wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and making false statements to Congress. He has pleaded not guilty and insisted he has no plans to resign from Congress.
Central Islip, N.Y.: U.S. Rep. George Santos, center, departs federal court with his attorney Joseph Murray, left, on June 30, 2023, in Central Islip, New York. (Howard Schnapp/Newsday RM via Getty Images)
The case against Santos involves separate allegations that he embezzled money from his campaign for personal use, lied to Congress about his finances and cheated his way into undeserved unemployment checks.
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During his run for office, Santos fabricated swaths of his life story, falsely portraying himself as a wealthy Wall Street dealmaker when he had actually been struggling to pay his rent and had worked for a company accused of running a Ponzi scheme.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.