A former fundraiser for Rep. George Santos has been charged with wire fraud and identity theft

NEW YORK (AP) — A former fundraiser for U.S. Rep. George Santos was indicted Wednesday on federal charges that he impersonated a high-ranking congressional aide while soliciting contributions for the New York Republican’s campaign.

Sam 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. Prosecutors said Miele impersonated a high-ranking aide to a House member with leadership responsibilities, using 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, but the details of the charges match with multiple news reports identifying the aide as Dan Meyer, now retired as the longtime chief of staff to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who at the time was minority leader.

Miele pleaded not guilty to the charges in Brooklyn federal court and was released on a $150,000 bond. His attorney, Kevin Marino, did not immediately return a phone message.

Meyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Santos’ office did not respond to a request for comment.

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.

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

The indictment come 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.

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.

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.

___

Associated Press writer Farnoush Amiri in Washington contributed to this report.

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