George Santos, the recently elected Latino Republican Representative from New York, continues to make headlines, but not for the right reasons. After a damning report in the New York Times questioning Santos’ claims and credibility, he has begun to speak on it. These reports with apologies about his fabricated background, which includes multiple false and unsubstantiated claims.
Harbor City Capital Employment – Ponzi Scheme Allegations
Of great interest is not only how Santos was elected with his “resume embellishments,” but where he found the funding for his most recent campaign after his previously unsuccessful one.
In 2020, while mounting his first Congressional campaign, Santos was hired by Harbor City Capital, a company that sought out investors that turned them into prospects for other companies. Harbor City CEO JP Maroney announced the hire in a company press release. His full name is George Devolder-Santos. Calling him “Devolder,” Maroney stated that he’d known Santos for many years, deeming him a “perfect fit” for the company. Prior to Harbor City, Santos earned a $55,000 salary for company that organized conferences for investors.
But Harbor City Capital wasn’t the honest, ethical company it told everyone it was. In April of 2021, the SEC filed a complaint against the company stating that it was operating a Ponzi scheme, with Maroney misappropriating nearly $5 million of the $17 million of investor funds. With that money, Maroney purchased a waterfront home, a $90K Mercedes Benz vehicle, and paid his credit card debt of $1.35 million. Maroney’s wife was also mentioned in the complaint, but none of Harbor City’s employees were, including Santos, who claimed he was unaware of the ongoing Ponzi scheme.
Silver Law Group founder Scott Silver has spoken with multiple Harbor City investors who were allegedly defrauded by the company. In a recent article in Mother Jones, Mr. Silver said that George Santos and other employees should have noticed the red flags. “Any person from the financial services industry, who went to work for a company like Harbor City, should immediately have recognized that Harbor City wasn’t properly registered as a financial services company,” Mr. Silver said. “Even if you didn’t know the company was operating as a fraud or a Ponzi scheme, a sophisticated person affiliated with the company should have known they weren’t licensed to do what they claimed to be doing.”
The Devolder Organization, LLC
Within a few weeks of the SEC action, Santos formed Devolder Organization LLC and incorporated it in Florida. Devolder’s registered agent is D&D International Investment Services, run by a man named DeVaughn Dames, formerly the CFO for Harbor City. Dames formed another company for Paul Nicolini, also a former Harbor City executive.
Devolder is named after Santos using the first part of his hyphenated surname. There is little information about what Devolder actually does, but during Santos’ campaign, Devolder was described on his campaign website as his “family’s firm” and that he was a “managing member” charged with the oversight of $80 million in assets. There are no records describing how Santos and his family obtained this $80 million, or much else. Santos described Devolder as a company intended to help “all the people who were left adrift [by Harbor City].” However, Santos also stated that the company had been dissolved.
On Monday, December 19, 2022, the New York Times published its expose. The next day, Santos restarted Devolder, reporting the company’s Merritt Island, FL address. The address is the property of another Harbor City alumni, former chief technology officer Jayson Benoit, whose company previously provided website services to Republican Reset PAC, a pro-Trump PAC.
Shortly after the SEC’s complaint against Harbor City, Dames also formed a political consulting company called Red Strategies USA. Santos, Benoit, Dames, and Nicolini were all managers. The company worked on the campaign of Tina Forte, the Republican who was unsuccessful in her challenge to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in the most recent election. Although Forte’s campaign paid Red Strategies $110,000 between June 2021 and December 2021 for “digital consulting and fundraising,” the company was dissolved in September 2021 prior to the election.
Other Alleged George Santos Falsehoods
In addition to an unclear financial history, Santos has also made multiple debunked claims about his background, including:
- His maternal grandparents fled to Brazil to escape the Holocaust
- He is of “Ukranian Jewish descent,” and his family’s original name was Zabrovsky
- Also claims to be “bi-racial” and “half black”
- His mother worked as a “top executive at a major financial institution,” and was in New York during 9/11, but was reportedly a housekeeper who died of cancer in 2016
- He was himself an accomplished investor who previously worked for both Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, but he worked for neither firm
- Attended the Horace Mann prep school, an elite private school in The Bronx with yearly tuition of nearly $60,000 a year until his parents couldn’t afford the tuition anymore
- Completed his GED then graduated from Baruch College with a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance
- Lost four employees in the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Florida in 2016
- Santos started a nonprofit called “Friends of Pets United,” but the IRS has no records of this nonprofit, and the alleged recipient has received no funding from the entity
- Santos previously owned 13 different properties, but no ownership records exist
- Claiming to be “openly gay” and married to a man. but was previously married to a Brazilian woman from 2012 until 2019 when he was granted an uncontested divorce
- His original 2020 campaign began twelve days after his divorce was finalized
Following the expose’ in the New York Times, George Santos recanted his claims of being “Jew-ish” in an interview with the New York Post. The Daily Beast found no record of his current marriage to the man he claims is his current “husband” or his work history as a pharmacist. New York does not have or recognize common law marriage.
Instead of working on at large investment banks on Wall Street, he actually worked at a call center for $15 an hour prior to his initial unsuccessful political campaign. George Santos worked for an apparently affiliated company called LinkBridge, which had ties to both banks, earning $55,000 in a year. He reportedly introduced clients and investors.
Reporters have also been unable to verify where Santos lives in New York. A recent news story alleges that Santos rented a place for a staffer but lives there with his alleged husband, using $11,000 in campaign funds to do so. He also spent $40,000 on airfare to campaign for his Long Island congressional seat. The New York Times also found multiple receipts for $199.99, one penny below the federal reporting threshold.
Following multiple financial problems, including two evictions by landlords, Santos’ background is shrouded in mystery and deceit. He has issued apologies for these embellishments, adding, “I am not a criminal.” However, Santos is now facing criminal investigations by:
- NY state Attorney General Letitia James
- Nassau County Republican District Attorney Anne Donnelly
- US Attorney’s office for the Eastern District on New York
Santos is currently scheduled to be sworn in on January 3, when the House reconvenes. He could also be subjected to investigations by the House Committee on Ethics and the Justice Department as a member of the House.
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