background_fid.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

New George Santos allegations involve stealing money meant for a veteran's sick dog

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The stories keep coming about George Santos, the newly elected Republican congressman from Long Island. Santos has admitted to what he calls embellishing his resume. News reports have uncovered lies about everything from where Santos graduated college, to his religion, to his campaign funds. This week, there were more allegations, including that he stole money intended for a military veteran with a sick dog. NPR's Quil Lawrence reports.

QUIL LAWRENCE, BYLINE: Mike Boll is a former U.S. Marine. He runs a charity called New Jersey Veterans Network. One veteran he's been helping out over the years is Richard Osthoff. In 2016, Osthoff's dog had a bulging tumor as big as a softball. Boll says Osthoff was homeless and started living in a tent near the veterinarian's office.

MIKE BOLL: And this dog's health was so important to him that he'd be willing to live in a tent to get his dog the proper care.

LAWRENCE: Osthoff didn't respond to phone calls today, but Boll says on two occasions when Osthoff was depressed, taking care of the dog kept him from hurting himself. Someone at the veterinarians office put them in touch with a man named Anthony Devolder.

BOLL: Aka George Santos.

LAWRENCE: Anthony and Devolder are Santos' middle names, which he's gone by in the past.

BOLL: Anthony Devolder introduced himself at the time, started a GoFundMe page for Richard and his dog Sapphire. There was a $3,000 goal, and they really hit it pretty quickly.

LAWRENCE: A text exchange provided to NPR shows arguments about when to get treatment for the dog. It gets heated. And then eventually, Osthoff accused of Devolder of trying to keep the money. Boll says he couldn't believe anyone would do that and called Devolder up.

BOLL: I was actually really convinced this was a mistake. This is a miscommunication. So I thought it would've went really well. I thought it would've been done really quickly. I was totally wrong and really became upset because this person totally took advantage of a veteran in need.

LAWRENCE: A Facebook post by George Devolder in 2016 shows a picture of the sick dog and a link to the GoFundMe page, which is now removed. A GoFundMe spokesman told NPR the fundraiser was removed in late 2016 after the organizer failed to show proof of delivery of the funds. Boll says the dog died. He and Richard Osthoff couldn't find Dave older and eventually gave up on their $3,000 until they saw a news clip last week.

BOLL: A reporter said, hey. Anthony Devolder, George Santos - who are you?

LAWRENCE: Santos' press office didn't respond to a query, but on Twitter, the congressman called reports that he would let a dog die, quote, "shocking and insane" and claims that he's rescued many dogs over the years and worked as an animal advocate. The tweet says nothing about the $3,000. Quil Lawrence, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Quil Lawrence is a New York-based correspondent for NPR News, covering veterans' issues nationwide. He won a Robert F. Kennedy Award for his coverage of American veterans and a Gracie Award for coverage of female combat veterans. In 2019 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America honored Quil with its IAVA Salutes Award for Leadership in Journalism.