NEW YORK — A federal magistrate decided on Tuesday to release the names of the co-signers of indicted representative George Santos’ $500,000 bail, but said she would keep them secret for now in order to give her attorney time to appeal the decision.
US Magistrate Judge Anne Shields’ decision came a day after Santos’ attorney said the New York Republican would risk going to jail to protect the identities of his co-signers whose support secured his bail .
The decision was a victory for media outlets, including The Associated Press and The New York Times, which last week called on Shields to unseal the names, citing the need for “as much transparency as possible.”
Santos attorney Joseph Murray urged Shields to keep the names secret. He suggested that the congressman’s co-signers could “suffer great distress,” including possible job loss and physical injury, if they are publicly identified.
Murray said he, Santos and Santos staff received threatening and harassing calls and messages, including death threats. He said he fears Santos’ critics are “just waiting to pounce” on people who support his release.
“My client would rather surrender to remand than subject these sureties to what will inevitably happen,” Murray wrote.
PHOTOS: Judge decides to release names of co-signers of Rep. Santos bonds, will remain secret while appeal is considered
Shields gave Murray until noon Friday to appeal. A message seeking comment was left for Murray.
Santos, 34, represents parts of Queens and Long Island. He pleaded not guilty on May 10 to deceiving donors, stealing from his campaign, lying to Congress about being a millionaire and cheating to collect unemployment benefits he did not deserve.
At Murray’s request, Shields agreed during Santos’ arraignment to keep the names of the co-signers off the court’s public record. In his decision on Tuesday, Shields reversed that decision.
Santos defied calls for resignation and said he would not give up his bid for a second term. He is due back in court on June 30.
Santos’ bail is not guaranteed. This means that his co-signers did not have to pay any money up front, but could be forced to pay the full amount if he fails to meet his release conditions or fails to appear in court.
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