Local Reporters Breaking Big National Stories
By Chris O’Neill
Several local Long Island newspapers and reporters are being credited with breaking big national political news stories over the past few months.
The North Shore Leader sounded the alarm about the fraud of George Santos last September and October - warning that the then-candidate was a liar, con-artist and fraud.
Leader reporters and Editors labeled Santos a “Fabulist – a Fake,” a “Pathological Liar, and “George Scam-tos,” detailing the huge frauds in his campaign and personal filings, and his sociopathic bragging about non-existent “mansions” and “Maserattis” - and his completely fake biography.
“Our reporters saw the huge discrepancies between what Santos was saying and reporting in his filings, and what he was really doing – or not doing – here on the north shore,” stated Maureen Daly, the Managing Editor of the Leader, who worked on the Santos stories. “He was openly lying, and his official filings were full of fraud. And we sounded the alarm.”
Only after the election did the New York Times dig deeper, and validate all of what the Leader had charged about Santos. In a solid journalistic researching of just how deep and total Santos lied – the Times revealed that virtually everything Santos said was a lie - but by then Santos had been elected.
Just last week, another local reporter, Jacqueline Sweet of the Oyster Bay Patch, broke the national story about how George Santos ran a fake charity called Friends of Pets United (“FOTU”) and stole $3,000 in charity money from Richard Osthoff, a disabled US Navy Veteran, earmarked for emergency surgery for his beloved service dog “Sapphire.”
Santos stole the money raised for Sapphire through GoFundMe. As a result, the surgery on Sapphire was canceled, and the dog died - leaving Osthoff crushed, depressed and suicidal.
Osthoff served a full tour of duty with the US Navy, serving on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. After a 2002 honorable discharge, Osthoff fell on hard times and was homeless at the time he encountered Santos – who was then using the fake name “Anthony Devolder.”
Sweet alerted the world to how Santos defrauded Osthoff, and killed his service dog. The national media then picked-up on Sweet’s story.
“So much of local reporting is telling the stories of our neighbors and stories you may not ever read otherwise,” stated Sweet. “Everyone can relate to Rich Osthoff’s story, a story of feeling defrauded and conned and how that connection to a shareable resonant human experience had such an impact in a crowded nonstop media frenzy over George Santos.” “That shows the crucial importance of local news,” added Sweet.
Finally, the weekly Messenger newspapers of Smithtown and Brookhaven were the first out last June with the story about how the “crypto-candidate” Michelle Bond – running a Republican primary for US Congress in NY1 - was really a “crypto-fake.” Bond was the girlfriend of Ryan Salame – the Co-CEO of the “ponzi-scheme” crypto exchange FTX – together with now- indicted fraudster Samuel Bankman-Fried. Bond appeared – seemingly out of nowhere – with millions of dollars to try to grab a congressional seat.
Messenger reporter Danielle Rodriguez-Rebolledo and Editor Michael J. Reistetter tracked-down and published the truth about Bond. Their articles exposed Bond’s fake narrative, and her secret crypto-currency agenda. None of the New York daily newspapers covered the story – until after FTX went bankrupt in November, 2022.
Bond was a fake in every way: She changed her registration from Democrat in Washington DC to Republican in Suffolk; She rented a short-term apartment in Port Jefferson just to get residency; and had changed her name from “Bogonja” to “Bond.” Even her name was fake.
Bond spent almost $5 million from her boyfriend Salame, a local part of their national effort to buy seats in the US Congress and make crypto-currencies an alternative currency to the US dollar. Thanks to the local newspapers’ reporting – by the Messenger, the Leader, and others – now-informed Republican voters rejected Bond and her crypto-agenda, and local Republican Nick LaLota defeated her by some 20%.
"The key was to follow our leads and see where they led us," stated the Messenger's Reistetter."By FOIL-ing Bond and conducting follow-up research, hunches and tips became verifiable facts. When a politician shows up at your doorstep, you as a voting citizen wield the power."