Judge warns Santos' father, aunt about bond obligations


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Washington — A federal magistrate judge overseeing last month’s bond hearing for Rep. George Santos told two family members who backed the bond allowing his release that doing so involves whether they could exercise “moral control” over the besieged GOP lawmaker.

Santos’ father Gercino dos Santos and aunt Elma Preven signed on as suretors guaranteeing the unsecured bond after the congressman was charged by the Justice Department last month. Their identities were shielded from public view until Thursday, when their signatures on an order setting the conditions for his release were unredacted.

A transcript of the criminal bond hearing at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York, on May 15 was made public Friday. During the proceedings, U.S. Magistrate Judge Anne Shields warned the elder Santos and Preven of the risks they have taken on by guaranteeing the $500,000 bond.

“There’s a danger if he doesn’t comply with any of the conditions of bond,” she said. “First of all, it’s a danger to him. He will and can be incarcerated. But more importantly for you two, you’re signing a bond that makes you two financially responsible. So it’s not just about feeling badly about it. This is a bond in the amount of $500,000.”

But Shields told the pair that their obligations extend beyond the money they would be responsible for if Santos failed to comply with the conditions for his release.  

“It’s about how well you know someone, whether you can exercise a certain amount of control or moral control over the person so that they understand what you are doing for them,” she said. “And I’d advise you to give him a call today. Tell him you came in. You signed it. You’re watching.”

Neither Santos’ father nor his aunt own homes that could satisfy the bond, and the judge warned that if the congressman fails to comply with its terms, it could impact their credit ratings and ability to secure mortgages.

According to the order laying out the conditions for Santos’ release, the freshman congressman has to submit to pretrial supervision, is subject to random home contacts and employment verification, and was required to surrender his passport. He is also limited to traveling between New York and Washington, D.C., and must receive permission to travel elsewhere. Santos is prohibited from contacting four individuals, though their identities are unknown. 

One of the people contacted Santos after he appeared in court last month, but he did not answer the phone, the transcript revealed.

During an exchange about Santos’ reelection campaign, which he announced in April, and the possibility events could bring him outside Washington and New York, Shields warned that if the congressman were caught traveling beyond those areas, a warrant for his arrest could be issued.

She reiterated that Santos is “certainly” not permitted to leave the country, prompting the congressman’s father to say, “make sure he understands that.” An unidentified speaker responds, “Yeah.” 

Shields advised the elder Santos and Preven to call the congressman “from time to time” and ask about his whereabouts.

“He needs to keep you in the loop as to where he is, where he will be at all time,” the judge said, later stressing that by co-signing his bond, “you’re responsible for knowing where he is.”

Santos is next scheduled to appear in court for an in-person conference before U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert on June 30.

The congressman was indicted last month and charged with 13 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, making false statements to Congress and theft of public funds. If convicted, Santos faces up to 20 years in prison. He pleaded not guilty during his initial appearance before Shields on May 10.

The $500,000 bond guaranteed by his father and aunt allowed Santos to go free while his case proceeds, and he unsuccessfully fought to keep his relatives’ names kept from the public. 

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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