The FBI is speaking with a Navy veteran who recently alleged that Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., essentially stole thousands of dollars from an online fundraising campaign intended to cover lifesaving surgery for his service dog.
Richard Osthoff told NBC News on Wednesday that he had been on the phone with the FBI and provided all requested records and information, including text messages dating back to his exchanges with Santos in 2016 about raising $3,000 for his dog Sapphire.
“I’m elated the big guys finally picked it up,” Osthoff said. “I turned over all my text messages and I’m in the process of turning over everything related to the GoFundMe campaign.”
Politico first reported on the scope of the FBI’s investigation. An FBI spokesman in New York declined comment, as did a spokesperson for the Eastern District of New York.
Osthoff’s allegations drew national attention after Patch.com first reported on his claims that the funds Santos helped raise on GoFundMe through a charity group linked to the lawmaker were never made available.
Osthoff later said in an NBC News interview that Santos helped him launch the fundraiser but began “coming up with all these excuses” about the money and ultimately refused to hand over the funds.
Santos’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Osthoff said he believes the funds would have saved his dog’s life.
In December, two federal law enforcement sources confirmed that federal prosecutors in New York had opened an investigation into Santos and were examining his finances, including potential irregularities involving financial disclosures and loans he made to his campaign as he was running for Congress.
The probe by federal prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York is one of a series of investigations into the embattled New York Republican.
Santos is also linked to a probe by the Nassau County district attorney’s office, and the state attorney general’s office which has said it’s “looking into a number of issues” tied to the congressman.
After dodging reporter inquiries into apparent fabrications of his biography and qualifications first brought to light by The New York Times, Santos said on Tuesday that he would recuse himself from a pair of assignments on the Small Business and Science committees amid multiple investigations.
Santos has admitted to lying about parts of his background and has faced numerous calls to resign from Congress, but had told reporters repeatedly that he is not considering leaving office.