A pair of veterans are accusing embattled New York Rep. George Santos of pocketing $3,000 raised for a dying dog. Rich Osthoff, a U.S. Navy veteran, told CNN that his pitbull, Sapphire, developed a tumor starting in 2015, during a time when he was homeless.
Michael Boll, who is the founder of the New Jersey Veterans Network, began working with Osthoff to help him get off the streets. He also tried to raise money to cover the costs of Sapphire's surgery. A mutual friend connected the pair with Santos, who they knew as Anthony Devolder.
Santos then started a GoFundMe, which raised $3,000. Unfortunately, when Boll and Osthoff tried to withdraw the funds, they found themselves locked out. They reached out to Santos, but he was evasive and eventually told them he would not give them the money.
"I had to jump through hoops and do everything his way," Osthoff told CNN. "He was just totally, totally difficult. One obstacle after another."
"He got so angry with me, and he blew up and refused to give me the money and then just wouldn't answer the calls anymore," Osthoff said.
GoFundMe said that the fundraiser was removed, and the email address used to create it was banned from the platform.
"When we received a report of an issue with this fundraiser in late 2016, our trust and safety team sought proof of the delivery of funds from the organizer. The organizer failed to respond, which led to the fundraiser being removed and the email associated with that account prohibited from further use on our platform. GoFundMe has a zero-tolerance policy for misuse of our platform and cooperates with law enforcement investigations of those accused of wrongdoing."
Unfortunately, Sapphire died in January 2017, about six months after Osthoff and Boll last spoke with Santos.
Because Osthoff only knew Santos by his alias, he didn't realize he was running for Congress in New York.
"In December, I started seeing him on TV," Osthoff told CNN. "I recognized his face, and it just turned my stomach when I saw him."
Santos has been accused of fabricating much of his resume and past history when he ran for Congress in 2022. He has faced multiple calls for his resignation but has refused to step down.
"I was elected by 142,000 people. Until those same 142,000 people tell me they don't want me, we'll find out in two years," Santos recently said in an interview with Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.