Tsk, tsk, tsk, George Santos…
“George Santos” is a little like Jarod from the 1990s series “The Pretender” who could effortlessly assume a new identity every week (hence the title). However, Jarod traveled around the country helping people and Santos is nothing more than a scuzzy con artist. That’s probably sufficient qualification for his current “pretend” as a Republican Congress member from New York. He’s even already on House committees!
Yes, Santos is reportedly assigned to the Small Business Committee and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. If he doesn’t like those committees, he can probably just pretend he’s on something else. Still, his current assignments do combine what seems like his most pronounced skill sets — using the Internet to bilk people through shady business ventures.
Patch reports that two New Jersey veterans claim Santos, under his guise as Anthony Devolder, promised to raise money for a service dog’s lifesaving surgery and then vanished. It’s a much darker version of The Music Man.
Drag George Santos out in handcuffs if you have to.
Back in 2016, Richard Osthoff, a disabled Navy veteran, lived in a tent in an abandoned chicken coop on the side of Route 9 in Howell, New Jersey. His faithful companion was Sapphire, a service dog he’d received from a veteran’s charity. Sapphire had a life-threatening stomach tumor, and Osthoff was told the surgery would cost $3,000, which he obviously didn’t have. But a veterinary technician pulled him aside and said, “I know a guy who runs a pet charity who can help you.”
The “charity” was the perhaps misleadingly named “Friends of Pets United.” According to Osthoff and another New Jersey veteran, retired police Sgt. Michael Boll, Santos set up a GoFundMe for Sapphire, raised the $3,000 for the surgery, but then ghosted on Osthoff without turning over the funds. (The New York Times confirmed that Friends of Pets United is not a registered non-profit.)
“He stopped answering my texts and calls,” Osthoff said. Sapphire died Jan. 15, 2017, and Osthoff, who’d been out of work for a year with a broken leg, resorted to panhandling to pay for Sapphire’s euthanasia and cremation.
“Little girl never left my side in 10 years,” Osthoff told Patch. “I went through two bouts of seriously considering suicide, but thinking about leaving her without me saved my life. I loved that dog so much, I inhaled her last breaths when I had her euthanized.”
Sapphire was all Osthoff had after his nation and his body failed him. Santos took advantage of Osthoff and the public’s generosity, so obviously, he’d deny his involvement. He told Semafor that the story’s fake and he has no clue who Osthoff is. But unlike most of Santos’s stated life history, there is actually corroborating evidence supporting Osthoff’s claims.
Then there’s Osthoff’s November 2016 Facebook post that reads: “To everyone who helped me and Sapphire raise the money for her surgery, I’m sorry to say we were scammed by Anthony Devolder [REDACTED] and Friends of Pets United FOPU. Through a serious of bad veterinary contacts, and subterfuge regarding payment, Sapphire has NOT receive veterinary care, and her growth is 3 to 4 times bigger than it was when the campaign was fulfilled. She is facing euthanasia within months.”
Osthoff also provided text messages between himself and Santos/Devolder/Cougar-Mellencamp.
On Nov. 13, 2016, in texts Osthoff showed Patch, he urged Santos to let him take Sapphire to another vet, saying “My dog is going to die because of god knows what.”
Santos replied, “Remember it is our credibility that got GoFundme […] to contribute. We are audited like every 501c3 and we are with the highest standards of integrity.”
“Sapphire is not a candidate for this surgery the funds are moved to the next animal in need and we will make sure we use of resources [sic] to keep her comfortable!”
Boll supports Osthoff’s story and recounts that Santos was “uncooperative on the phone” when he attempted to mediate.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed Santos’s former roommate, who said he sometimes used the name “Anthony Zebrosky” when setting up GoFundMe scams. His stated reasoning is repulsive: “[Santos] would say oh, well the Jews will give more if you’re a Jew. So that is the name he used for his GoFundMes.”
You want to believe the walls are finally closing in on Santos, and he’ll finally face accountability for his lies. But that seems less likely in the Republican House majority Kevin McCarthy’s built.[Patch]
- George Santos, You Dirty Dog - January 18, 2023
- Who Needs Social Security When Republicans Will Let You Work Until You Die, Possibly 100 Years? - January 17, 2023
- Could Forever AZ Gov Candidate Kari Lake Unseat Indie Sen. Kyrsten Sinema? - January 16, 2023