Apparently George Santos, who will be sworn in tomorrow— presumably by McCarthy— likes chicken, or certainly did at one time. The NY Times tracked down a then-18 year old boyfriend, who is not the mysterious husband The Talented Mr. Santos claims to have. This might be his Instagram page, although it’s hard to be certain if this is the same Pedro Vilarva.
“Not everything in Santos’s stated biography was a lie,” wrote Michael Gold and Grace Ashford. They were willing to corroborate “his claim that he received his high school equivalency degree in New York in 2006.” They filled in another blankspot: in 2016 he moved to Florida, got a Florida driver’s license and registered to vote. They also found Pedro Vilarva, who Santos met in 2014 when he was 18 and Santos was 26. Gold and Ashford wrote that “They dated for a few months before Santos suggested they move in together. Vilarva said he felt on top of the world— even if he said he did find himself footing many of the bills.”
Santos’ crooked nature was at the base of the sad relationship with the naive kid. "'He used to say he would get money from Citigroup, he was an investor,' Vilarva recalled. 'One day it’s one thing, one day it’s another thing. He never ever actually went to work,' he said. Things began to unravel between the two men in early 2015, Vilarva said, after Santos surprised him with tickets to Hawaii that turned out not to exist. Around the same time, he said he discovered that his cellphone was missing, and believed Santos had pawned it. The betrayal prompted him to plug Santos’s name into a search engine, where he found that Santos was wanted by Brazilian police. 'I woke up in the morning, and I packed my stuff all in trash bags, and I called my father and I left,' he said."
Looking back, Vilarva said, he was young and gullible: He wanted to believe Santos’s many stories and believe in the life that they shared. Today he is worried about the impact Santos might have as an elected official.
“I would be scared to have someone like that in charge— having so much power in his hands,” he said.
…Santos has said that he grew up in a basement apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens. Until Wednesday, Santos’s campaign biography said that his mother, Fatima Devolder, worked her way up to become “the first female executive at a major financial institution.” He has also said that she was in the South Tower of the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and that she died “a few years later.”
In fact, Ms. Devolder died in 2016, and a Brazilian community newspaper at the time described her as a cook. Santos’s friends and former roommates recalled her as a hardworking, friendly woman who spoke only Portuguese and made her living cleaning homes and selling food. None of those interviewed by The Times could recall any instance of her working in finance, and several chalked the story up to Santos’s tendency for mythmaking.
His apparent fabrications about his own life begin with his claims about his high school. He said he attended Horace Mann School, a prestigious private institution in the Bronx, and said he dropped out in 2006 before graduating and earning an equivalency diploma. A spokesman for Horace Mann said that the school had no record of his attending at all.
By 2008, court records show, Santos and his mother were living in Brazil, just outside Rio de Janeiro in the city of Niterói. Just a month before his 20th birthday, Mr. Santos entered a small clothing store and spent nearly $700 in 2008 dollars using a stolen checkbook and a false name, court records show.
Santos has denied that he committed crimes in the United States or abroad. But the Brazilian record shows that he admitted the fraud to both the police and the shopkeeper.
“I know I screwed up, but I want to pay,” he wrote in a message to the store’s owner on Orkut, a popular social media website in Brazil, in August 2009. “It was always my intention to pay, but I messed up.”
In November 2010, Santos and his mother appeared before the police, where they both admitted that he was responsible. On Sept. 13, 2011, a Brazilian judge ordered Santos to respond to the case. Three months later, a court official tried to subpoena him, but he could not be found.
By that time, he was back in New York, working at a Dish Network call center in College Point, Queens, company records show.
Interviews with half a dozen former friends and colleagues, several of whom spoke on the condition that they not be identified to avoid being dragged into Mr. Santos’s controversies, suggest that he was reinventing himself when he moved back to New York, and that he would continue to do so in the years to come. They portray Mr. Santos as a striver, whose tendency toward embellishment and one-upsmanship left them with doubts about his many claimed accomplishments.
He told some that he had been a journalist at a famous news organization in Brazil, but none could find his name on its website. He said that he was taking classes at Baruch College, but none of his friends remembered him studying. He bragged of Wall Street glory but often seemed to be short on cash, at times borrowing from friends whom he didn’t always repay.
When he joined a travel technology company called MetGlobal, Mr. Santos portrayed himself as a man with family money. But two former co-workers said that the pay was modest and the work didn’t square with Mr. Santos’s depiction of himself as a financier passing time after bad bets left him on the outs on Wall Street.
Santos’ stench is starting to rub off on other right wingers— and not just the ones who endorsed and vouched for him, like Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Ronny Jackson (R-TX), the NY Post editorial board, George Pataki, Señor Trumpanzee and the the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association. The stink is heaviest on Kevin McCarthy, who endorsed him, helped finance his campaign and now refuses to say a word about the web of lies he wove. “This silence,” wrote Dean Obeidallah yesterday, “is not surprising. It perfectly sums up McCarthy and many in today’s GOP who seek power at any cost— with no regard for principle or the greater good of our nation. Even fellow GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz… recently slammed the Republican leader for not having any core values, writing in an op-ed, ‘Every single Republican in Congress knows that Kevin does not actually believe anything. He has no ideology.’ It’s likely McCarthy has declined to condemn Santos because the California lawmaker is so desperate to secure the 218 votes he needs to be elected speaker when the new Congress is sworn in on Tuesday. (Before this scandal broke, Santos had pledged his support on Twitter for McCarthy’s speakership bid— but has since apparently deleted that tweet.) Given the incoming House GOP majority will be a razor-thin four votes, McCarthy needs Santos’ support if he is to have any chance of becoming speaker.”
UPDATE: Will Santos Be Extradited To Brazil?
This evening, the NY Times reported that Brazilian law enforcement authorities intend to revive fraud charges against Santos, and will seek his formal response through the U.S. Department of Justice. This is the case where he stole one of his mother's patients checkbooks and wrote $700 in fraudulent checks for clothes and then fled to America rather than make the restitution ordered by a judge.