Two New Jersey veterans say now-Congressman George Santos promised to raise funds for lifesaving surgery for one of their dogs in 2016, then became elusive and took off with the money.
Rich Osthoff, a US Navy veteran, told CNN his pit bull Sapphire began developing a tumor in 2015, and it continued to grow in 2016. Osthoff said he was homeless, living in a tent, at the time after losing his job and house.
Osthoff’s mentor and friend Michael Boll, founder of New Jersey Veterans Network, told CNN he took Osthoff under his wing as part of the charity’s mentorship program and tried to get help for his dog.
Boll said a mutual friend connected the two veterans with Santos, who told them Santos was frequently involved with helping and rescuing animals. Boll and Osthoff both knew Santos by the name Anthony Devolder, they said.
Santos set up a GoFundMe for Osthoff’s pit bull, Sapphire, Boll said. A post from the Facebook profile of George Devolder links to a GoFundMe raising surgery funds for the dog.
CNN has reached out to Santos’ lawyer and his congressional office for comment. Santos told the news outlet Semafor that the story, first reported by Patch.com, was “fake” and that he had “no clue who this is.”
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