George Santos would go to jail to keep identities of bond cosigners secret, lawyer says

NEW YORK — Representative George Santos’ attorney said Monday that the indicted New York Republican would risk going to jail to protect the identities of the people who co-signed the $500,000 bond for his temporary release.

Lawyer Joseph Murray has urged a judge to reject a media request to unseal the names of Santos’ guarantors, suggesting they may ‘suffer great distress’, including possible job losses and physical injuries, if publicly identified.

“My client would rather surrender to remand than subject these sureties to what will inevitably happen,” Murray wrote in a letter to U.S. Magistrate Judge Anne Shields.

Murray requested that she give them time to opt out as co-signers if she decides to unseal the names of the guarantors, which Shields kept out of the public court docket at the attorney’s request.

Murray said he, Santos and Santos staff received threatening and harassing calls and messages, including death threats. The lawyer said he received a call on Friday from someone shouting, “Who posted Santos’ bail?” and said he feared Santos’ critics were “just waiting to pounce” on people who support his release.

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“We truly fear for their health, safety and well-being,” Murray wrote.

Santos pleaded not guilty on May 10 to a 13-count indictment of deceiving donors, stealing his campaign, lying to Congress about being a millionaire and cheating to collect unemployment benefits that he did not deserve. He is due back in court on June 30.

The 34-year-old, who represents parts of Queens and Long Island, defied calls to resign and said he would not give up his bid for a second term.

Prosecutors did not take a position on the request to unseal them.

In a letter last week, an attorney for news outlets urged the judge to release the names of Santos’ bail guarantors, citing a “compelling public interest in maintaining as much transparency as possible in these proceedings.”

The New York Times first wrote to Shields on May 23 asking him to unseal the names. Other outlets, including the Associated Press, joined the fight days later.

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Separately, the House Ethics Committee wrote to Santos on May 16 asking him to identify the people who co-signed his bond.

Murray said Santos originally lined up three financially responsible co-signers as sureties, but one pulled out and the other two did not show up for his arraignment. This forced them to make “other confidential arrangements” to secure Santos’ release, Murray said.

Copyright © 2023 Washington Times, LLC.

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