Defense in Rep. George Santos’ alleged fraud case to review thousands of documents



NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York postponed proceedings in Rep. George Santos’s alleged financial fraud case on Friday, after prosecutors said they turned over more than 80,000 documents for him to review with his lawyer.

U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert agreed to give parties until Sept. 7 before discussing motion deadlines and a trial date. The hearing at a Long Island courthouse lasted less than five minutes.

It was the first appearance of Santos (R-N.Y.) in front of Seybert, who has been assigned to the case and would preside over an eventual trial if no plea agreement is reached.

Santos was indicted in May on 13 counts alleging financial crimes, including that he defrauded political donors and lied about his employment status to get unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on a $500,000 bond insured by his father and an aunt. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The indictment against Santos followed revelations about his lies regarding his background, including his education and employment. He falsely claimed that he is a descendant of Jewish grandparents who fled Nazi Germany and that his mother survived the Sept. 11, 2001, attack.

In court Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Harris told Seybert that his team of prosecutors had already provided the defense with a sizable number of documents collected by the government as evidence in the case. Such large exchanges of documents often include files that are not relevant, but reviews are often time-consuming.

Defense attorney Joseph Murray requested more time to review the documents because Congress will not be in session in August and Santos will have more time to focus on his case.

Seybert encouraged the parties to quickly work through the discovery process so that a speedy trial could happen.

About a dozen members of a constituent group demonstrated outside the courthouse, calling for Santos’s resignation from Congress. He has rebuffed other suggestions that he should resign.

Santos and his attorney declined to comment as they left the courthouse on Friday.

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