WASHINGTON — A New Jersey veteran has accused George Santos, the embattled Republican congressman accused of lying about his background, of offering to raise money for a lifesaving surgery for his sick dog -- only to take off with $3,000. Santos has denied the claims.
Richard Osthoff, 47, said he was homeless and living in New Jersey with his service dog, Sapphire, when she developed a life-threatening cyst in 2016. Osthoff told Patch and other media outlets that when he learned surgery to save her would cost $3,000, a vet tech told Osthoff a friend who ran a pet charity could help him named Anthony Devolder, with Friends of Pets United.
Anthony Devolder is one of the names Santos used prior to entering politics.
Santos created a GoFundMe, which quickly reached its goal, but Osthoff said that's when Santos became evasive. Text message screenshots show Santos suddenly demanding Sapphire be treated at a different veterinary clinic and preventing Osthoff from being at appointments.
When the new clinic said it couldn't operate on Sapphire's tumor, Osthoff said Santos became uncooperative and kept they money, claiming it would be used for other animals. Sapphire died in 2017. Osthoff said he had to panhandle to pay for euthanasia expenses.
The New York Times reported in December that Santos' organization, Friends of Pets United, was never registered as a charity with the IRS.
Santos, a Republican who flipped a Democratic-held district in November, is facing multiple investigations by prosecutors over his personal and campaign finances and lies about his resume and family heritage. Santos has been accused of lying about having Jewish ancestry, a career at top Wall Street firms and a college degree.
Santos has said he will not resign.