In 2016, George Santos – the truth-challenged gay congressman from Long Island – reportedly setup a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for a disabled veteran’s service dog. Over $3,000 was raised but Santos took the money and ghosted on the veteran and his dog.
Sapphire died in January 2017 without receiving the necessary treatment.
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) January 18, 2023
A veteran’s charity gave the pit mix to Richard Osthoff, a disabled veteran who was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2002, he told Patch.
When Sapphire developed a life-threatening stomach tumor, Osthoff, now 47, learned the surgery would cost $3,000. A veterinary technician took Osthoff aside and told him, “‘I know a guy who runs a pet charity who can help you,’” Osthoff recounted.
Osthoff and another New Jersey veteran, retired police Sgt. Michael Boll, who tried to intervene to help Osthoff in 2016, told Patch that George Santos closed the GoFundMe he set up for Sapphire after it raised $3,000 on social media and disappeared.
There’s much more at the link.
There are still several posts on Osthoff’s Facebook from May 2016 asking folks to donate to the GoFundMe. You can see Santos’ name in the title for the campaign – “Click here to support sappphire The Veteran rescue! by Anthony Devolder.” Anthony Devolder is one of the name’s Santos has used in the past several years.
Osthoff shared the news on June 30, 2016, that the GoFundMe had been successful – “and then some!” – and he was making plans for Sapphire’s surgery as soon as possible. But according to Michael Boll, Santos suddenly became “elusive.”
Santos apparently refused to release the funds to Osthoff for the surgery to be performed by Sapphire’s veterinarian. Instead, Santos insisted the procedure be done at a veterinarian’s office in Queens. But when Osthoff and Sapphire arrived at the Queens practice, that vet said they “couldn’t operate on the tumor.”
Boll, a retired Marine Corps veteran who knew Osthoff through his outreach work, called Santos telling him, “You’re messing with a veteran,” and that he needed to give back the money or use it to get Osthoff another dog. But according to Boll, “He was totally uncooperative on the phone.”
Santos told Osthoff in their final phone call that the funds raised for Sapphire would be used “for other dogs.”
In text messages dated November 13, 2016, shared with Patch, Santos claimed Friends of Pets United was a 501C3 “with the highest standards of integrity.” But in December 2021, the New York Times reported that the group was not a registered nonprofit.
A few days later, Osthoff told his Facebook friends “we were scammed by Anthony Devolder and Friends of Pets United.” By that point the tumor had grown “3 to 4 times bigger than it was when the campaign was fulfilled.”
On January 15, 2017, Sapphire lost her battle with the tumor. Osthoff says after being out of work for a year due to a broken leg, he couldn’t afford her euthanasia or cremation. “I had to panhandle,” he shared. “It was one of the most degrading things I ever had to do.”
“Little girl never left my side in 10 years,” he added. “I went through two bouts of seriously considering suicide, but thinking about leaving her without me saved my life. I loved that dog so much, I inhaled her last breaths when I had her euthanized.”
In December 2022, when Santos’ numerous lies became national news, Osthoff and Boll were stunned to recognize the face of Anthony Devolder who had taken Sapphire’s GoFundMe donations.
Patch’s attempts to contact Santos and his lawyer have so far gone unanswered.
My God. Newly obtained texts show George Santos (who was going by Anthony DeVolder) set up a fake GoFundMe claiming to help a disabled veteran’s dog get a tumor removed.
— No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen (@NoLieWithBTC) January 17, 2023
Two veterans allege that George Santos set up a GoFundMe for a service dog, then kept the $3,000 raised that she needed for a lifesaving surgery.
They say Santos closed the GoFundMe, disappeared, and the dog died. https://t.co/GZaAllo5DM
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 18, 2023
George Anthony Devolder Santos took $3,000 from a GoFundMe set up for a disabled veteran's dog and then just disappeared. The dog died.
What a POS. pic.twitter.com/gD068NHtC8
— Really American 🇺🇸 (@ReallyAmerican1) January 18, 2023
How low does a Republican have to go to finally be called out by their fellow Republicans?
This is infuriating and despicable. https://t.co/xKSp8yQTxS
— VoteVets (@votevets) January 18, 2023