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George Santos confessed to stealing checks in Brazil in a deal to drop charges

U.S. Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., speaks to the media outside the federal courthouse in Central Islip, N.Y., Wednesday. The next day, he appeared virtually in a Brazilian court to face separate charges.
Seth Wenig
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AP
U.S. Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., speaks to the media outside the federal courthouse in Central Islip, N.Y., Wednesday. The next day, he appeared virtually in a Brazilian court to face separate charges.

RIO DE JANEIRO — U.S. congressman George Santos has likely resolved at least one of his legal cases, this time in Brazil.

The embattled New York Republican faced charges in a suburb outside Rio de Janeiro on allegations he stole checks to buy clothing and other goods in 2008.

On Thursday, Santos signed a deal with Brazilian prosecutors that he would confess and agree to pay almost $5,000 in fines and restitution in exchange for dropping the charges, The New York Times reported.

Just a day after pleading not guilty to separate charges in the U.S., Santos appeared remotely in a criminal court in the Brazilian suburb of Niterói.

Brazilian prosecutors alleged he used a fake name and a stolen checkbook to buy goods, including tennis shoes, in a store in Niterói. He was formally charged in 2011 but authorities lost track of Santos until he became a U.S. congressman in 2022.

The Brazilian charges were dropped after the congressman's deal and there are no further cases there against him, Santos' lawyer told NPR.

On Wednesday, the 34-year-old freshman Congress member appeared in a court in New York and pleaded not guilty to 13 felony charges in a separate case against him.

The U.S. charges include a wide range of financial crimes, including lying and theft and misappropriating donor money for personal gain. He is also accused of wrongfully claiming unemployment benefits.

He was released from U.S. federal custody on a $500,000 bond while the legal proceedings move forward.

Controversy has followed Santos since he was elected in November. The New York Times revealed he had mislead people about his education and personal background. During his campaign, he variously described himself as a grandson of a Holocaust survivor, a Wall Street financier and a volley ball star.

Santos has described the New York charges against him as a "witch hunt," telling reporters he would fight to clear his name and continue to run for reelection.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Mexico City, Mexico. She covers Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and on NPR.org.