George Santos Was Once Accused of Stealing Puppies Days Before His Animal Charity Held Adoption Event

Rep. Santos was charged with theft in 2017 over several bad checks written in his name to Amish dog breeders, according to a new report from Politico

Baldwin, N.Y.: Congressman-elect George Devolder Santos joined the newly elected GOP members of the Senate and Congress during a press conference on November. 9, 2022 in Baldwin, New York.
George Santos. Photo: Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday RM via Getty

George Santos was charged with theft in 2017 over several bad checks written in his name to dog breeders, according to a new report from Politico.

The charge, from Pennsylvania's Amish Country, was connected to $15,125 in checks made out for "puppies" days before he put on an adoption event through his animal charity at a Staten Island pet store.

According to a lawyer and the court, Santos claimed someone had stolen his checkbook and his record was expunged with the charges dismissed, per Politico.

Santos' lawyer did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment on the new report.

Representative-elect George Santos, a Republican from New York, speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, US, on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Democrats defied political forecasts and historical trends to keep control of the Senate in a win for President Joe Biden, as voters rejected a handful of candidates backed by former President Donald Trump.
George Santos. Ronda Churchill/Bloomberg via Getty

Attorney Tiffany Bogosian told Politico, in the latest story surrounding Santos, that she tried to help him with some legal advice in February 2020 after he visited her office and claimed that someone he knew was responsible for the disappearance of his checkbook. At the time, Santos asked for help and told Bogosian that New York Police Department officers served him with an extradition warrant in connection with the Pennsylvania theft charge, she said.

Bogosian later sent an email to a "Trooper Adams" on Santos' behalf, relaying what he had told her: "He received four check books for the account at his request from the TD BANK branch he banked with in Queens, NY, and of the four one went missing," adding that Santos "immediately called his bank upon learning 1/4 check books was missing" and had the books cancelled.

"As such no checks were ever cashed or presented against his account due to his cancellation of all checks linked to this account. The account was closed on March 3, 2018, for personal reasons unrelated to any alleged fraud on his account (banking preference)," Bogosian wrote.

After attaching the checks in an email and noting that Santos' signature didn't match those on the checks, Bogosian wrote that she believed Santos was a victim of fraud.

A week after his meeting with Bogosian, Santos reportedly told prosecutors in Pennsylvania that he "worked for the S.E.C.," and convinced them to drop the charges, Bogosian recalled him telling her. She also told Politico that she questioned Santos at the time but took his word about the checkbook.

George Santos, Republican US Representative candidate for New York, in Oyster Bay, New York, US, on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. Republicans are fielding a more racially diverse array of candidates in the midterms, hoping to make gains among voters of color and counter criticism their party appeals only to White people.
Jackie Molloy/Bloomberg via Getty

A York County District Court representative also confirmed to Politico that Santos was charged with theft by deception, although the record was expunged on Nov. 24, 2021.

Of the checks, one was written out to dog breeder Jacob Stoltzfus of Bird-in-Hand, Pa. for $775 for "puppy," and dated Nov. 22, 2017. Stoltzfus told the publication that would have been the amount he charged for one of his purebred dogs at the time.

Michele Vazzo — who met Santos at Pet Oasis in Staten Island — was introduced to Santos at another adoption event, where he told her that one golden retriever was rescued from an Amish puppy mill. "The fees were always different and he always had a ton of puppies and a ton of people helping him," Vazzo said, per Politico.

Among his explanations for where the dogs came from, Vazzo recalls Santos mentioning that he found pregnant dogs on the street, and that he also rescued them in Puerto Rico.

Santos' animal charity Friends of Pets United was not a registered nonprofit or rescue group, per The New York Times.

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Santos is already facing several probes, including one reportedly over claims that he once scammed a Navy veteran out of $3,000 meant for his ailing service dog, which he has denied.

Since being elected in November, the Republican congressman from New York has also admitted to "embellishing" parts of his career, family history and personal life, and is now also under investigation by both the Nassau County District Attorney's Office and federal investigators, with other probes also reportedly ongoing.

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