Ex-treasurer for Rep. George Santos pleads guilty to conspiracy, tells of bogus loan and fake donors

FILE - Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., speaks to reporters just after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's last-ditch plan to keep the government temporarily open collapsed, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. Prosecutors say the ex-campaign treasurer for Santos is scheduled to enter a guilty plea to an unspecified felony in connection with the federal investigation of financial irregularities surrounding the indicted New York Republican. Nancy Marks is a veteran Long Island political operative. Marks was a campaign treasurer and close aide to Santos during his two congressional bids. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Nancy Marks leaves federal court, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, in Central Islip, N.Y. Marks, the ex-campaign treasurer for U.S. Rep. George Santos pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government and implicated the indicted New York Republican in court with submitting bogus campaign finance reports. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK — The ex-treasurer for U.S. Rep. George Santos pleaded guilty Thursday to a fraud conspiracy charge and implicated the indicted New York Republican in a scheme to embellish his campaign finance reports with a fake loan and fake donors.

Nancy Marks, who was a close aide to Santos during his two congressional bids, entered the plea at a federal courthouse on Long Island, where she was a longtime political operative and bookkeeper for multiple candidates.

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Speaking to the judge, Marks said that among other things, she and Santos had submitted bogus campaign finance reports falsely saying he had loaned his campaign $500,000 even though in reality he didn’t have that kind of money and the loan didn’t exist.

She said the purpose of the fake loan was to make it look like he was richer than he really was, which might attract other donors including a Republican committee.

Reading from a prepared statement, Marks also said she had provided the Federal Elections Commission with a fake list of people who had supposedly given money to the campaign.

“The donors, who are real people, didn’t give me permission to use their names,” Marks said in court,

Her plea agreement comes with a recommendation that she serve 3 1/2 years to 4 years in prison.

Outside the courthouse, Marks’ lawyer said that while his client had not formally entered into a cooperation agreement with prosecutors, she would be willing to testify against him if asked.

“If we get a subpoena we’ll do the right thing,” said the attorney, Ray Perini. He said Santos had “mentally seduced,” his client.

“There’s a manipulation involved that had to do with her family and the death of her husband,” Perini said, declining to elaborate. “There were lies told.”

Any such testimony could be a severe blow to the congressman, who faces separate charges that he embezzled money from his campaign, lied in financial disclosures submitted to Congress and received unemployment funds when he wasn’t eligible.

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