- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2023

A former fundraiser for Rep. George Santos was charged on federal counts that he impersonated a senior congressional aide while asking for contributions for the GOP lawmaker’s campaign.

Sam Miele, 27, was charged with four counts of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in an alleged scheme to defraud donors and obtain money for Mr. Santos. Prosecutors said Mr. Miele used a fake name and email address to impersonate a “high-ranking aide to a member of the House with leadership responsibilities.”

Wednesday’s indictment did not identify who was impersonated, but details of the charges are similar to the story first reported by The Washington Times that named Dan Meyer, now retired as the longtime chief of staff to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, who at the time was minority leader.

“Mr. Miele is not guilty of these charges,” said Mr. Miele’s attorney, Kevin Marino. “He looks forward to complete vindication at trial as soon as possible.”

The Times reached out to Mr. Santos‘ office for comment but did not immediately hear back.

Federal prosecutors stated that Mr. Miele sent “fraudulent fundraising solicitations” to more than a dozen prospective donors from August to December 2021, at times signing the emails with Mr. Meyer’s full name and title and setting up a fake email account with the first letter and full last name of the aide.

In a letter sent to Mr. Santos last September, Mr. Miele admitted to “faking my identity to a big donor,” according to the indictment. He described himself as “high risk, high reward in everything I do.”

Mr. Miele earned a commission of 15% for each contribution he raised, prosecutors said.

Mr. Santos was not charged in the indictment, but the facts of the case rely on events that tie in with the lawmaker’s own alleged crimes of wire fraud and money laundering, federal prosecutors said in a filing Wednesday.

Mr. Miele, a former House intern in 2018 for Rep. Pete Sessions, Texas Republican, pleaded not guilty to the charges in Brooklyn federal court and was released on a $150,000 bond.

Mr. Sessions has already denounced Mr. Santos and is “not supportive” of him being part of the Republican conference.

Mr. Santos was indicted on 13 federal charges in May on allegations that he misled donors and misrepresented his finances to the public and government agencies. The congressman pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Santos has ignored calls from both sides of the aisle to resign. A Democratic lawmaker forced a vote on a resolution to expel him from Congress in May, but the chamber voted to send the measure to the Ethics Committee, which has been investigating the congressman for months.

Despite his legal troubles and pariah status among local and state Republican officials in his own district on Long Island, he is running for reelection in 2024.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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