Ex-Santos treasurer Nancy Marks has ties to Kristy Marmorato’s Bronx GOP campaign, records show

nancy marks
Nancy Marks leaves federal court, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, in Central Islip, N.Y. Marks, the ex-campaign treasurer for U.S. Rep. George Santos pleaded guilty last Thursday to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government and implicated the indicted New York Republican in court with submitting bogus campaign finance reports.
Photo Mary Altaffer, AP

City Council District 13 Republican nominee Kristy Marmorato launched her campaign with Nancy Marks as the treasurer — the go-to bookkeeper for New York Republicans who recently pleaded guilty to fraud for her work on U.S. Rep. George Santos’ campaign.

Marks, the former campaign treasurer for the twice-indicted Santos, entered her guilty plea in federal court last Thursday to conspiring with a congressional candidate to commit wire fraud, making materially false statements, obstructing the administration of the Federal Election Commission and committing aggravated identity theft.

In court, she admitted to a scheme to embellish campaign finance reports with a fake $500,000 loan and fraudulent donors in order to trick Republican Party officials into supporting Santos, who was struggling to garner financial support for his run for Congress in 2022.

“The donors, who are real people, didn’t give me permission to use their names,” she admitted in court.

Her plea deal carries a recommended sentence of 3.5-4 years in prison.

The troubled treasurer has worked on dozens of political campaigns, including two East Bronx Republicans’ earlier this year.

Archived NYC Campaign Finance Board web pages show that both Marmorato and her top GOP challenger George Havranek listed Marks and her company Campaigns Unlimited as the treasurer for their committees from January through late February. By the end of March, however, both candidates had hired new campaign treasurers.

Marmorato said she was ready to cut ties once news started to come out about Marks when she resigned from Santos’ campaign in late January, but it took time to find a replacement.

“I know a reporter had called my father’s house asking about Nancy and my involvement with Nancy, and I knew that I had to part ways with her because that would have just been a big distraction,” she told the Bronx Times.

Havranek said he hired Marks after she was “highlrecommended” to him by Bronx GOP Chair Michael Rendino and because she had a good reputation. But he decided to end the relationship when he learned she was also working for Marmorato. 

They both said their time with Marks was short-lived and she wasn’t involved in their fundraising.

Mamorato and Havranek’s campaigns paid Marks $1,100 and $1,000, respectively, according to campaign filings.

Marmorato ended up clinching the GOP nomination in June, defeating Havranek by a slim margin. She now faces the challenge of trying to unseat City Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, a Democrat, in the general election, which is scheduled for Nov. 5.

side by side photos of the candidates at their election night parties
Kristy Marmorato looks at her phone as primary results and George Havranek watches results on a projector the night of the primaries on June 27, 2023. Photos Pamela Rozon, Aliya Schneider

Marks, 58, was the preferred treasurer for Republicans in the Bronx and across New York state, Rendino, who is Marmorato’s brother, told the Bronx Times. She worked for former gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin as well as John Cummings, the Republican who challenged AOC in 2020.

Rendino said he recommended Marks to any Republican in need of a treasurer — “before all this stuff came out,” he added.

“We send everyone her way because she was cheap and she was good,” he said.

Marmorato’s campaign announced in late January that she outraised Velázquez and qualified for matching funds just eight days into her campaign. She touted $15,960 across 173 donors, which jumped to $98,955 with matching funds. Havranek ultimately outraised his opponents with $49,109 in private contributions and $184,000 in public funds.

Now a month before Election Day, Marmorato has raised a combined $193,517 in public and private funds compared to Velázquez’s $248,411.

While the collective Republican primary candidates and Velázquez’s Democratic challengers (who ran to the right of her) garnered more votes combined than the incumbent in the primaries, Marmorato’s fellow Republicans haven’t necessarily rallied around her.

While Havranek hasn’t been directly campaigning for Marmorato, he expects Republicans to vote along party lines. And his strategy to get those on the fence to vote red is by “bashing Marjorie every day, harder than anyone else,” particularly on social media, he told the Bronx Times.

But Hasime “Samantha” Zherka, who trailed a distant third behind Marmorato and Havranek in the Republican primary, told the Bronx Times that instead of supporting Marmorato, she will mount a write-in campaign, encouraging support from the local Albanian community.

Zherka and her campaign manager Philip Grillo – who is facing charges for his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — criticized Marmorato for hiring Marks and accused the city Board of Elections (BOE) of cronyism since her husband, Gino Marmorato, is a BOE commissioner. She pulled no punches when speaking about the Bronx GOP, which she accuses of being corrupt.

george santos
U.S. Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., holds a miniature American flag that was presented to him as he departs federal court, June 30, 2023, in Central Islip, N.Y. Photo John Minchillo, AP

“I don’t support the Democrat Socialists and I’m certainly not going to support corruption either,” Zherka told the Bronx Times.

As the Bronx Times reported earlier this year, BOE workers both donated to Marmorato’s campaign and challenged her opponents’ petitions, but her husband recused himself from matters relating to her race.

The Daily News reported this week that at least 73 of Marmorato’s donations came from BOE employees, 52 of which were made between June 1 and June 4, raising eyebrows. But Marmorato told the Bronx Times that claims her husband influenced his colleagues are “ridiculous,” adding that he barely goes into the office. 

Previously, the Bronx GOP was under fire for choosing Marmorato as the Republican nominee since her brother is the chair, with some saying it reeked of nepotism. But Rendino said she was simply the best candidate and that he abstained from the vote.

“Whether Samantha wins or not, which is highly unlikely, that’s fine. As long as it takes away Kristy ‘Rendino,’” Grillo said, taking a jab at Marmorato’s relationship with her brother.

According to the New York Times, while the issues in Santos’ campaign weren’t present in other campaigns Marks worked on, she had been accused by former clients of overpaying herself and not paying bills. And while charges ultimately weren’t brought, federal prosecutors investigated her at least twice.

On Tuesday — less than a week after Marks’ plea — federal prosecutors added 10 charges to the 13 Santos faced in May, accusing him of stealing the identities of donors and using their credit cards to ring up tens of thousands in unauthorized charges, as well as participating in the scheme with Marks.

“I feel bad for her and I think George (Santos) took advantage of her, but I don’t know the intricate details of what happened in the case,” Rendino said of her guilty plea. “Until they come out I really won’t be able to have a clear statement. But I do feel bad for her because she was always a very nice woman to me and to everybody around me. She was very motherly.”

While Santos blamed some of his financial irregularities on Marks, saying she “went rogue,” her lawyer Ray Perini said Santos “mentally seduced” her.

Marks could not be reached on Wednesday.

— Jake Offenhartz of AP contributed to this report

Reach Aliya Schneider at aschneider@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes