George Santos' father and aunt guaranteed his $500K bond, court documents show

The embattled congressman had sought to keep their identities private.

Rep. George Santos' father and aunt guaranteed his $500,000 bond, according to a court document unsealed Thursday over the congressman's objection.

Santos, a first-term Republican congressman who represents parts of Queens and Nassau County in New York, posted the bond after pleading not guilty last month to a 13-count indictment accusing him of fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds.

His bond was guaranteed by Gercino dos Santos Jr. and Elma Santos Preven, who Santos first told ABC News' Rachel Scott are his father and his aunt.

Under the terms of the bond, neither of them were required to provide any funds for Santos' release -- only to be financially responsible "if the defendant does not comply with the conditions" of his release.

In May, the House Ethics Committee sent a letter to Santos requesting the names of his suretors so it could determine "whether you may have solicited or received an improper gift in connection with the bond sureties."

However his attorney previously expressed a preference for Santos to go to jail rather than release the names of the bail backers to the public, and argued harm could befall the suretors if their identities were revealed.

"Here in the instant case, the suretors are likely to suffer great distress, may lose their jobs, and god forbid suffer physical injury," defense Joseph Murray said in a court filing.

PHOTO: Rep. George Santos waits for the start of a session in the House chamber at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2023.
Rep. George Santos waits for the start of a session in the House chamber at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2023.
Alex Brandon/AP, FILE

"I'm also concerned for the safety of the people whose names will be revealed who are family members, and I worry about their safety," Santos told ABC News a day before the names were released.

But federal Judge Joanna Seybert sided with a coalition of news organizations, including ABC News, who argued that the names should be made public.

Asked Thursday for his reaction to the court-ordered revelation, Santos lashed out at reporters, accusing them of "trying to spin a story" that would "drive [his father's and aunt's] lives absolutely miserable."

"My whole thing around keeping the suretors secret was for their safety," Santos said. "Because of the death threats I get -- I can handle that, I ran for public office -- they did not, they're private citizens."

According to Federal Election Commission records reviewed by ABC News, Santos' father is a retiree in New York who listed his occupation as construction and painting. Records show that he donated six times to his son's Congressional campaigns in 2020 and 2022, for a combined $7,650.

FEC records also show an Elma S. Preven of New York donated to Devolder-Santos for Congress three times in 2021, totaling just over $4,000. The records listed Preven at the time as a mail handler for the United States Postal Service.

Neither Preven nor Gercino dos Santos responded to a request for comment from ABC News.

The House Ethics Committee has been investigating Santos since March. On Thursday the committee said they had expanded their probe to look into the allegations of unemployment insurance fraud, and that to date the panel had issued more than 30 subpoenas in the course of its probe.

Santos faces five counts of wire fraud in what prosecutors allege was a fraudulent political contribution solicitation scheme, as well as two counts of unlawful monetary transactions for allegedly transferring donations he received for his political campaign to accounts he controlled before spending them on personal purchases; one count of theft of public money; two more counts of wire fraud for allegedly fraudulently applying for and receiving unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic; and two counts of making false statements to the U.S. House of Representatives in financial disclosure reports.

The embattled congressman, who has been accused of misrepresenting elements of his employment record, his education, and his family history, has admitted that he lied about portions of his background while running for Congress.

ABC News' Katherine Faulders and Lauren Peller contributed to this report.

Related Topics