Veteran who claimed George Santos stole money for his dying dog says he was contacted by the FBI

The FBI has contacted a Navy veteran, Richard Osthoff, as part of an investigation into embattled Rep. George Santos and a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Osthoff’s ailing service dog.

Osthoff confirmed the FBI call, and sources familiar with the matter confirmed the nature of the investigation — adding to the growing list of legal issues and controversies Santos, RN.Y., faces.

The new lawmaker insists he is not a “criminal” and has said he will leave office if he is not re-elected. He has admitted and apologized for lying about parts of his background while claiming he was only embellishing his resume.

According to previous reports from ABC News, a trusted source said Santos ran a GoFundMe account under the auspices of charity Friends of Pets United under the name Anthony Devolder in 2016 and raised around $3,000, allegedly to help Osthoff start the operation to pay for removal of a tumor from his dog.

Osthoff told ABC News Santos didn’t come through with the money and ignored text messages about it. Osthoff says his dog Sapphire ultimately died from his condition.

“I never want to see another person, especially another veteran, go through that again,” Osthoff said.

Santos’ campaign previously described Friends of Pets United as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, but IRS filings do not list a charity under that name.

PHOTO: Rep. George Santos (R-NY) exits a GOP caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on January 25, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) exits a GOP caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on January 25, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Santos told ABC News on Wednesday he was unaware of the FBI investigation and said of Osthoff, “I don’t remember ever meeting him.” Osthoff previously provided texts to a local news outlet that he said they are between him and Santos.

When asked if he was worried about being prosecuted, Santos replied, “I have no idea, I don’t know what the point is.”

He also told ABC News he has not been contacted by anyone regarding the investigation. “I was not reached by them. So I can’t comment on that,” he said.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are investigating Santos, including the charity, which sources familiar with both investigations also say is part of an investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office.

Spokespersons for both the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the New York Field Office of the FBI declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

The FBI’s contact with Osthoff was first reported by Politico.

When reports surfaced in December that Santos had made up part of his life story, he told the New York Post he was sorry he had “embellished,” but said, “That [controversy] will not prevent me from getting good legislative results. I will be effective. I’ll be good.”

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