Homem que acusou George Santos está foragido sob acusação de torturar criança
Gustavo Trelha teve ordem de prisão decretada pela Justiça brasileira em fevereiro do ano passado
Man who accused George Santos is at large on charges of torturing a child
Lucia Guimarães - March, 23
The Brazilian who accuses U.S. Congressman George Santos of being the head of a credit and debit card cloning ring is on the run from the Justice Department of Espírito Santo (BR) state on charges of alleged torture.
The former flight attendant Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha has been in the headlines in the US press in recent weeks for denouncing the Republican congressman, son of Brazilians, the target of multiple investigations in the US and Brazil.
Caught red-handed manipulating a card cloning device in Seattle in 2017, Trelha was indicted and deported to Brazil the same year. Five years later, in February 2022, he had an arrest warrant issued after being indicted for the alleged torture of a 2-year-old child, the son of the girlfriend he was living with.
The ex-commissioner's father, Dimorvan de Mello Trelha, told Folha he believed his son had already fled to France months before a bailiff knocked on his door with an arrest warrant issued by Polinter (Interstate Police Station) in Espírito Santo. Dimorvan claimed he had no knowledge of the crime.
In 2017, Trelha rented a room in George Santos' apartment in Florida. That same year, the future congressman even traveled to Seattle to testify on his behalf before a judge, on which occasion, as has already been disclosed, he lied about being an executive at Goldman Sachs. At that time, Santos described Trelha, who was in jail, as a friend of his family.
The American news website Politico obtained a recording of Santos' testimony during the bail hearing for Trelha, which was set at $250,000. The former commissioner was unable to pay that amount and, after seven months in detention, was deported.
On June 12, 2019, the 2-year-old boy was admitted to the emergency area of the Unimed hospital in São Gonçalo (RJ). According to the lawyer of the child's family, Felipi Martins, in a report to Folha, the hospital did not have pediatric resources to attend the boy, who presented bruises and fractures in three points of the skull, the result of one or multiple beatings.
Still according to the lawyer, the boy was transferred to the Unimed unit in Niterói for a skull surgery.
Martins was in charge of the investigation that resulted in the accusation of torture and, subsequently, the arrest warrants for Trelha and the boy's mother. Since the case concerns a minor, the case is being kept under the secrecy of the courts.
Folha had access to the case files. Martins has now been declared a prosecutor's assistant, a function that consists of assisting the Public Prosecutor's Office in public criminal actions. The first hearing of the trial of Trelha and the child's mother was scheduled for April 24 in the 2nd Criminal Court of Vitoria.
According to Martins, Trelha has a violent past. The lawyer introduced to the reporter an ex-girlfriend of the accused, who did not want to reveal her identity for fear of Trelha's temper. She says that she was a victim of stalking and harassment when the relationship ended.
Folha tried to contact Trelha's lawyer for over a month. On Wednesday (22), the reporter was able to get a cell phone number that would be Trelha's own, registered as being from the Netherlands and provided by people close to him. In response, an indication that the number had been cancelled.
On an Instagram account attributed to Trelha by acquaintances, images of European countries appear. It is not possible, however, to say in which country he is at the moment.
Besides the bank fraud episode in 2017, Trelha shares with Santos another predilection, creating lies about his own past.
According to Martins, he posed as a pilot when he was actually a flight attendant. Dimorvan, his father, confirms that Trelha only completed the first stage of a course and was only licensed to fly single-engine aircraft - he never worked as a commercial pilot.
Dimorvan says he was perplexed to learn that his son had reported to the US Federal Court as an informant against George Santos and provided a contact phone number to authorities in New York. "Instead of staying quiet, it will put more fuel on the problem. It seems like total insanity," he said.
The father, a retired Methodist theologian, says he received a brief text message from his son about a month ago - that was the last contact between them. Dimorvan believes he is in France. "I am not turning my son away," he says, saying he can offer prayers. "I tried to give him the best education, but if he didn't learn, close to 40, he won't learn anymore."
Earlier this month, Politico published a statement, which it said was made "under oath" by Trelha to U.S. Justice, through a law firm on Long Island, the region neighboring New York that elected George Santos to Congress last December.
The law firm is owned by Grant Lally, publisher of the North Shore Leader, a local newspaper that claims to have been the first to expose the inconsistencies in Santos' record. Lally is a Republican who, in the past, ran for the same district that elected Santos.
"I am coming forward today to state that the person responsible for the crime of credit card fraud when I was arrested was George Santos/Anthony Devolder," Trelha said.
The fugitive from justice status was not mentioned by the website or by attorney Mark Demetroupoulos, who forwarded the document to the Justice Department and the FBI (both investigating Santos) and also to the US Secret Service.
In the statement that was written in English and translated into Portuguese for Trelha to sign, the fugitive defendant says that Santos maintained a card cloning paraphernalia and split the profits with him in half, but ended up stealing all his money.
On the 10th of this month, Santos told NBC network that he was "not the leader of anything," cooperated as an informant for U.S. Justice in Seattle, and that he had already contacted the FBI after Politico published the story.
It is noteworthy that New York attorney Mark Demetropoulos sought out an escapee accused of a violent crime and offered him as a credible witness to the U.S. Justice Department, omitting the entire Brazilian judicial case.
Demetropoulos showed nervousness when answering Folha's call and said he could not talk about the subject. When the reporter asked if he would like to know what facts were established about Trelha in Brazil, he slammed the phone down.
Santos told the reporter by phone that he had three or four interactions with Trelha when he sublet his apartment in Orlando. He also said he never heard from him again after his deportation in 2017.
The congressman repeated that he never committed the crime of bank fraud and cooperated with U.S. investigators at the time. He claims he is preparing to sue attorney Mark Demetroupoulos and the Politico website.