The FBI is investigating allegations that Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., used a fake animal charity to raise $3,000 for a disabled veteran’s cancer-stricken dog and kept the money for himself, according to a Wednesday report.
The former service member, Richard Osthoff, told POLITICO that two FBI agents contacted him on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York.
As first reported by Patch.com, Osthoff came into contact with ‘Friends of Pets United,’ an animal charity, after he learned it would cost $3,000 for surgery for his service dog, a pit bull mix named Sapphire who had developed a life-threatening stomach tumor.
A veterinary technician had told him they knew someone who ran the charity that could help raise money. Osthoff was informed that the charity was run by Anthony Devolder, an alias Santos allegedly used for years before entering politics in 2020.
Osthoff and another veteran, retired police Sgt. Michael Boll, who tried to intervene to help Osthoff in 2016, claimed a GoFundMe page that raised the necessary funds for the dog’s surgery was shut down by Santos and that the now-congressman then disappeared with the money.
Santos allegedly claimed the dog’s disease was untreatable after consulting with an affiliated veterinarian and that the money would instead go to his charity. Osthoff had urged to allow him to take the funds to other clinics, and Santos allegedly stopped responding.
The dog died on Jan. 15, 2017, but Osthoff could not afford the euthanasia and cremation because he had been out of work with a broken leg for more than a year. Osthoff said he had to panhandle to find the money to euthanize and cremate Sapphire.
Fox News Digital has reached out to Santos’ office for comment on the investigation but did not hear back before publication. The FBI told Fox News Digital it could ‘neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.’
GoFundMe told Fox News Digital it received a report of an issue with the fundraiser in late 2016. The platform’s safety team sought proof of the delivery of funds from the organizer. The organizer failed to respond, leading to the fundraiser being removed and the email associated with the account being banned.
‘GoFundMe has a zero-tolerance policy for misuse of our platform and cooperates with law enforcement investigations of those accused of wrongdoing,’ the company said.
The fake charity is merely one of many allegations levied against Santos. The freshman Republican has faced numerous calls for his resignation and is facing multiple investigations by prosecutors over his personal and campaign finances and lies about his resume and family background.
On Tuesday, Santos said he was temporarily stepping down from his two congressional committees following his meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy the day prior.
Fox News’ Landon Mion and The Associated Press contributed to this report.