Nancy Marks, the former campaign treasurer for embattled Republican Rep. George Santos (New York), pleaded guilty to federal felony charges, admitting to fraudulent practices while bookkeeping for Santos’s campaign and implicating the lawmaker himself in at least one crime.
Marks, who was a central figure in Santos’s congressional campaign, pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. She admitted to fraudulently reporting a $500,000 loan to the campaign that was supposedly made by Santos; the loan had previously been questioned after reporters discovered that Santos had fabricated large portions of his life story and career.
“As campaign treasurer, I knew that the loan had not been made at the time,” Marks said in court. She faces a recommended sentence of between three and five years in prison.
Prosecutors said that the funds were not loaned at all and that Santos couldn’t have made the loan to begin with. “Marks and the Candidate agreed to falsely report to the FEC that the congressional candidate had loaned the campaign significant sums of money, including in one instance a $500,000 loan, when, in fact, the congressional candidate had not made the reported loans and, at the time the loans were reported, did not have the funds necessary to make such loans,” the office of U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said.
The loan appeared to have been part of a scheme to inflate the campaign’s fundraising numbers to the FEC in order to reach a $250,000 fundraising target that would qualify Santos’s campaign for financial and logistical support from a Republican Party committee. This scheme involved creating a list of people, including at least 10 of Marks’s family members, who had supposedly supported the campaign but who actually hadn’t.
“I did these things in agreement with co-conspirator #1,” Marks said in court, “for his benefit and to obtain money for his campaign by artificially inflating his funds to meet thresholds set by a national political committee.” Co-conspirator #1 was identified by Marks’s lawyer as George Santos.
The guilty plea covers a number of federal offenses, including conspiring with a congressional candidate to commit wire fraud, make materially false statements, obstruct the administration of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and commit aggravated identity theft.
The charges come as part of a case in which the lawmaker faces 13 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and making materially false statements to the House of Representatives. Santos has pleaded not guilty to these charges.
Santos has attempted to pin blame on Marks ever since she resigned in January, saying that financial wrongdoing in his campaign was due to Marks going “rogue.”
Marks’s lawyer, Raymond Perini, noted that Marks had not faced similar allegations before agreeing to work for Santos, CNN reported. “This man, with his lies and manipulation, has ruined many a life,” Perini said.
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