Samuel Miele, a fundraiser for embattled Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), was indicted on allegations he had impersonated a top aide to a member of House leadership while soliciting donations for Santos’s campaign.
Miele is charged with four counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
A federal grand jury sitting in Brooklyn returned the indictment Tuesday, and court records show that it was unsealed Wednesday.
While the documents do not identify the impersonated aide’s name or the lawmaker they work for, a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in February accused Miele of impersonating Dan Meyer, who previously served as chief of staff to Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
In the indictment, the aide is described as a “high-ranking aide to a member of the House with leadership responsibilities.”
Prosecutors say Miele set up an email account with the first letter and full last name of the aide and proceeded to use the account to ask for donations from more than a dozen people in the second half of 2021. Miele was paid a 15 percent commission, according to court filings.
The indictment does not charge Miele with directly violating campaign finance laws but instead accuses him of defrauding donors in four emails he sent seeking funds. Each email corresponds to a count of wire fraud. The fifth charge of aggravated identity theft was brought for allegedly using the aide’s name while committing the other crimes.
The indictment alleges that Miele had admitted to “faking my identity to a big donor” in a letter to Santos in September 2022, just weeks before Santos’s election. Miele wrote he was “high risk, high reward in everything I do,” according to court filings.
The complaint with the FEC, filed by End Citizens United, cited reports that accused Miele of impersonating Meyer during the 2020 and 2022 election cycles. The FEC said it was done “for the purpose of soliciting financial contributions to Santos’s campaign.” Meyer at the time was chief of staff to then-House Minority Leader McCarthy.
It noted that federal law prohibits individuals from fraudulently representing themselves as someone acting on behalf of a candidate in an effort to solicit contributions.
“Respondents appear to have violated this well-established prohibition, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Santos’s congressional campaign under false pretenses,” the complaint reads.
Reached for comment by The Hill, Santos’s office said it has nothing to do with campaign-related matters.
The Hill reached out to Santos for comment.
The indictment is the latest piece of legal trouble surrounding Santos. He was indicted on 13 federal charges in May on allegations he misled donors and misrepresented his finances to the public and government agencies. The congressman pleaded not guilty.
Santos has faced bipartisan calls to resign and be expelled but the congressman said he has no plans to step down early.
A Democratic lawmaker forced a vote on a resolution to expel Santos from Congress in May, but the chamber ultimately voted to refer the measure to the Ethics Committee — a move that was seen as largely redundant because the Ethics panel had been investigating Santos for months.
Santos is running for reelection in 2024.
The new development could impact which judge manages Santos’s case.
Two different judges, both appointed by Democratic presidents, were selected to oversee the defendants’ cases.
But prosecutors on Wednesday filed a letter suggesting the matters are related and that it “may be appropriate” to reassign one of the cases to save resources.
Updated at 2:58 p.m.