Most people realize that politicians lie. It’s how a lot of them get elected. And many a politician has stayed in office by telling people what they want to hear rather than the truth.
But even politicians can go too far. When they do, almost everyone turns against them.
That might be what’s happening to alleged serial liar George Santos, a Republican from the North Shore of Long Island, New York. Santos was elected to a seat in Congress in November, flipping a district that many thought would be won by a Democrat.
Now Santos is under investigation by the FBI for allegedly taking thousands of dollars donated to save a dying dog, Politico reported Wednesday.
It gets worse. The dog belonged to Richard Osthoff, a disabled veteran who was honorably discharged from the Navy in 2002, according to Patch of Oyster Bay, New York.
To make it potentially even more egregious, Osthoff was living in a tent in an abandoned New Jersey chicken coop in 2016, the year the incident occurred.
The dog’s name was Sapphire. She had developed a life-threatening tumor and needed surgery that would cost Osthoff $3,000 that he didn’t have, Patch reported. Sapphire’s future looked grim.
A veterinary technician stepped in with a possible solution, telling Osthoff about a guy who ran a pet charity that could help.
The man’s name was Anthony Devolder, according to Patch. His pet charity was called Friends of Pets United.
Santos allegedly used the name Anthony Devolder as one of his aliases before entering into politics in 2020.
Osthoff said Devolder/Santos set up a GoFundMe account for Sapphire and, sure enough, it raised the needed $3,000.
But Santos became difficult to get a hold of after the GoFundMe page was set up in May 2016, he said. “I only talked to him two or three times on the phone,” Osthoff said, according to Patch.
On June 30, 2016, Osthoff posted on Facebook: “We made the goal, and then some.” He calculated that over half of the donations came from his friends and people he knew.
It looked like Sapphire had a shot at a new lease on life.
Not so fast.
Michael Boll, a retired police officer and New Jersey veteran who tried to help Osthoff in 2016, told Patch that the GoFundMe for the dying dog disappeared after it raised $3,000.
Osthoff then learned that Sapphire couldn’t use his New Jersey veterinarian to treat the dog but instead had to transport her to a veterinarian in Queens, New York. Santos explained that he had “credit” with the practice because he had used it for his charity.
“It was a tiny little hole-in-the-wall place but looked legitimate,” Osthoff told Patch. “The vet there said they couldn’t operate on the tumor.”
He was confused. The New Jersey veterinarian hadn’t expressed similar concerns.
Santos became elusive after that, so Osthoff sent him a text, saying, “I’m starting to feel like I was mined for my family and friends’ donations.”
In a final phone conversation, Santos told Osthoff that because he “didn’t do things my way,” the money from the fundraiser was put back into the charity, the veteran said.
Boll said he tried to help, contacting Santos and telling him he needed to either refund the money or use it to get Osthoff another dog. Santos maintained he would use the money to help other animals. Boll told him that he couldn’t because the money was raised for Sapphire and Osthoff.
“He has PTSD, and this dog is his lifeline,” Boll said of Osthoff, according to Patch. “When I first heard about it, I thought, this is going to kill him.”
Sapphire died on Jan. 15, 2017. Osthoff couldn’t afford the dog’s euthanasia and cremation. “I had to panhandle. It was one of the most degrading things I ever had to do,” he told Patch.
“Little girl never left my side in 10 years,” he said. “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.”
Two agents contacted Osthoff on Wednesday on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, according to Politico.
“I’m glad to get the ball rolling with the big wigs,” he told the outlet. “I was worried that what happened to me was too long ago to be prosecuted.”
That’s not all Santos is up against. He faces multiple criminal investigations concerning the alleged lies on much of the resume he used to get elected to Congress.
Santos recently recused himself from serving on House committees amid the growing calls for him to resign, according to CBS News.
Seventy-eight percent of his constituents said he should step aside, including 71 percent of Republicans, according to a Newsday/Siena College poll. An overwhelming 83 percent of his constituents view him unfavorably, including 78 percent of Republicans.
According to Politico, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told Capitol Hill reporters last week that if the House Ethics Committee finds that Santos broke the law, he will be removed from Congress.
Preying on the potential revenue that could be generated by a disabled veteran’s dying dog borders upon the insane.
If Santos is charged and convicted in the case, that should be the end of his political career.
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