Newly-elected Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is accused of raising money for a disabled veteran’s service dog’s survival surgery and then disappearing with it, according to Patch.
Richard Osthoff, a Navy veteran, said he was living in a tent near a highway with his dog Sapphire in Howell, New Jersey, when Santos conned him. Osthoff was quoted $3,000 to remove a life-threatening stomach tumor that Sapphire had been diagnosed with.
Osthoff said a veterinarian told him about Anthony Devolder, who ran Friends of Pets United, a pet charity. In reality, Anthony Devolder was an alias used by Santos, whose full name is George Anthony Devolder Santos, the New York Times reports, noting that Santos has also gone by “George Devolder” and “Anthony Zabrovsky.”
Retired police Sgt. Michael Boll, another New Jersey veteran who was helping Osthoff in 2016, told Patch that Santos used GoFundMe to solicit donations for Sapphire’s surgery.
However, once $3,000 in donations were collected, Boll said, the campaign was closed and Santos became difficult to reach.
Osthoff thanked donors for helping him meet his fundraising goal in a July 2016 Facebook post, with a link to the since-deleted GoFundMe page that was created “by Anthony Devolder.” But when Osthoff tried to schedule Sapphire’s surgery, Santos insisted Osthoff take Sapphire to another vet clinic. There, Osthoff was told vets couldn’t operate on the tumor, while Santos said the money raised for Sapphire would instead go to “other dogs.”
That November, Osthoff gave his supporters an update on Facebook, saying that he had been “scammed by Anthony Devolder,” with Sapphire’s only remaining option being euthanasia.
With no further help, Sapphire died in 2017.
Santos is currently facing multiple federal and local investigations related to stories he fabricated about his education, work experience, cultural background and personal relation to some of the darkest events in U.S. and world history during his campaign. As HuffPost reports, he is also facing investigations related to alleged misuse of campaign funds.
According to The New York Times, Santos told voters that his charity, Friends of Pets United, was a tax-exempt organization, yet the Internal Revenue Service had no records of a registered charity with that name.
In an interview with CNN, Gregory Morey-Parker said he lived with Santos for a few months in 2020, during which time he knew the man by Anthony Devolder and Anthony Zabrovsky, but “never known him as George Santos.”
Morey-Parker told Anderson Cooper that Santos said he used the name Zabrovsky for his pet charity because he believed “the Jews will give more if you’re a Jew.”