Meet the former Dem Congressman facing more federal charges than George Santos

A California Democrat who previously represented the Golden State in the House has been offered a plea deal over wire fraud, money laundering and other federal charges stemming from 2022.

Terrance John “T.J.” Cox, who represented California’s 21st Congressional District from 2019 to 2021, is facing a combined 28 charges — five more than the number of charges currently faced by former New York GOP Rep. George Santos, who was expelled from Congress late last year.

A hearing for Cox — whose plea deal was noted in court documents filed Wednesday — was originally slated to take place on March 27 but was moved May 22 due to the “extremely voluminous” amount of digital records, hundreds of thousands of financial records and reports and other evidence that Cox’s attorney will review to assess the offer, according to the documents.

Though details related to the plea deal were not immediately available, the documents confirmed the “defendant received and is considering the government’s plea offer.”


Terrance John “T.J.” Cox speaks during a rally at the Titan Student Union on the campus of California State University, Fullerton in Fullerton on October 4, 2018. (Leonard Ortiz/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

Mark Coleman, the attorney for Cox, did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the matter.

Cox surrendered to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in August 2022 and was conditionally released at the same time after appearing virtually before a federal judge. At the time, Cox was charged with 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, one count of financial institution fraud and one count of campaign contribution fraud.

At the time of his arrest, prosecutors detailed in the 25-page indictment how Cox allegedly stole $1.7 million from clients and companies he was associated with from 2013 to 2018.

In one instance, Cox allegedly solicited a $100,000 loan for one of his companies in April 2017 but failed to pay the principal back to the two investors.

“More than $40,000 of [the loan] was used for Cox’s personal expenses, including private school tuition, credit card payments, mortgage payments and a $7,000 payment to Cox’s private political consultant,” prosecutors wrote.


The total number of charges faced by Terrance John “T.J.” Cox (left) exceeds those faced by former GOP Rep. George Santos (right), who became the first House lawmaker to be expelled in more than 20 years last December. (Getty Images)

When Cox was a candidate for U.S. Congress in the 2018 election, he allegedly arranged for more than $25,000 in illegal straw donations by funding or reimbursing family members and associates after they gave money to his campaign.

Cox is also accused of providing fabricated bank statements on a mortgage application and fraudulently obtaining a $1.5 million construction loan to build a recreation area in Fresno. That loan went into default, resulting in a loss of more than $1.2 million, according to prosecutors.

The total number of charges faced by Cox exceeds those faced by Santos, who became the first House lawmaker to be expelled in more than 20 years after a vote by his then-colleagues last December.

Santos has not been convicted of a crime, but he has been indicted on 23 counts related to wire fraud, identity theft, falsification of records, credit card fraud and other charges. Santos has been accused of using campaign funds on a number of luxury goods and treatments such as botox. He has pleaded not guilty.

The 311-to-114 vote to oust Santos from Congress was strongly bipartisan, although slightly more Republicans voted to keep him.

Santos — who represented New York’s 3rd Congressional District — announced on Friday he would make another congressional bid to reclaim a seat in the House, but this time as an Independent candidate. He will run to unseat Rep. Nick LaLota, a Republican, who represents New York’s 1st Congressional District.

Former Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., was expelled from the House in a vote taken by his colleagues last December. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc)

Cox, now 60 years old, flipped California’s 21st congressional district in 2018 but lost to Republican Rep. David Valadao by 862 votes in 2020.

Fox News’ Elizabeth Elkind contributed to this report.

Kyle Morris covers politics for Fox News. Story tips can be sent via email and on X: @RealKyleMorris.

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