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Santos appears in court for first time since pleading not guilty in criminal fraud case

<i>Amr Alfiky/Reuters</i><br/>Rep. George Santos walks with his lawyer Joseph Murray outside the Central Islip Federal Courthouse on the day of his hearing
Amr Alfiky/Reuters
Rep. George Santos walks with his lawyer Joseph Murray outside the Central Islip Federal Courthouse on the day of his hearing

By Mark Morales and Kristina Sgueglia, CNN

Central Islip, New York (CNN) — Embattled Rep. George Santos appeared in federal court on Friday, where prosecutors unveiled they had delivered the defense roughly 80,000 pages of documents earlier this week.

Santos – back in court for the first time since pleading not guilty to a 13-count indictment alleging fraud related to Covid-19 unemployment benefits, misusing campaign funds and lying about his personal finances – showed no emotion throughout the hearing in Long Island, sitting with his hands folded in front of him.

Santos’ attorney, Joseph Murray, noted that Congress’ August recess would be a good time to review the cache of documents.

The next hearing will take place on September 7, one week before Congress is back in session. Murray argued he wanted his client to be able to return to session.

Murray told the judge that the defense and prosecutors had a “good working relationship,” when discussing when to set a next court date.

As he left the table, Santos wished prosecutors a “happy fourth of July” as he walked out of the courtroom.

He wore a gray suit jacket with gray slacks and a red tie. After court, he was escorted to an elevator by court officers, saying nothing to reporters who peppered him with questions.

Santos was released on bond and ordered to surrender his passport in May after pleading not guilty to 13 federal charges – seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives.

Santos is currently in his first term representing New York’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Long Island. His astonishing pattern of lies and fabrications, which stunned even hardened politicos, led top Democrats and some New York Republicans to call for his resignation earlier this year. But Santos has rebuffed those calls and said he plans to seek reelection next year.

Outside of the courthouse on Friday, several constituents from his district spoke about the “firehose of garbage and deceit” from their representative, calling on Congress to oust him.

“We are the victims,” Jody Kass Finkel, founder and representative of Concerned Citizens of NY-03, said at a news conference, calling Santos’ actions a “premeditated con.”

“We fully expect George Santos to go to prison, but that doesn’t solve our immediate problem,” she added.

Santos has been out on a $500,000 bond since pleading not guilty. A federal judge unsealed the identities of the co-signers of the bond, who were revealed to be his father, Gercino Dos Santos, and his, aunt Elma Santos Preven, court records show.

Neither relative secured the bond with cash or property, but both relatives “agreed to be personally responsible” for the congressman’s compliance with the terms of his release, records show. Both were told that Santos had restrictions he could not violate, including on his travel and not having any communication with four unidentified people. A violation could damage their credit and hinder them from getting a mortgage, and they would owe the government $500,000, according to the court records.

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