Andrew Gillum, once Florida’s candidate for governor, has been indicted

Andrew Gillum, once Florida’s candidate for governor, has been indicted

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) – Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor of Florida for 2018, has been charged with 21 federal charges, including conspiracy and wiretapping for personal donations. , prosecutors said Wednesday.

The U.S. Attorney for North Florida said Gillum, 42, is also accused of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation because he claimed he did not receive or request anything from two undercover agents posing as developers. Secret agents offered gifts and money in exchange for project support.

Sharon Janet Letman-Hicks, 53, owner of a communications company, has been charged with fraudulent money laundering fraud in Gillum, U.S. Attorney Jason R. Cody said in a statement.

Prosecutors said the couple “conspired to commit fraud, illegally soliciting and extorting money from various entities and individuals through false and fraudulent promises and statements that the funds would be used for a lawful purpose.”

Gillam, in a statement released through his lawyers, denied the allegations.

“Do not be mistaken that this case is not legal, it is political. “Throughout my career I have defended the people of Florida and told the truth to the authorities,” the statement said. “There has been a target on my back since I was mayor of Tallahassee. They found nothing then and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now.

He made his first appearance in federal court Wednesday afternoon, entering the courtroom tied to his ankles and wrists. He and Lettman-Hicks pleaded not guilty to all charges. The trial is set for August 16. Both were released without bail and instructed not to leave North Florida without permission.

Gillum met with FBI undercover agents who pretended to be developers while he was mayor and during his campaign for governor. His associates sought donations from agents and suggested ways to raise money without mentioning them as political contributions, including paying for a fundraising dinner, according to the indictment.

Agents were asked to contribute $ 100,000 to Gillum’s campaign and said the money could be given to a private company to keep agents’ names away from campaign finance documents. The agents said they would like a favorable review for development projects and told them that this would not be a problem, according to the indictment.

Agents also met with Gillum in New York and paid for his hotel, food and drink, a boat ride and a ticket to see “Hamilton,” according to the indictment.

Other FBI agents later interviewed Gillum and asked if he had any contact with the undercover agents. Gillum told them he never asked for or received anything from the “developers” and stopped contacting them after they tried to link the contributions to support for their projects, the indictment said.

An unnamed man donated $ 250,000 to Gillum’s political committee, but only $ 100,000 was donated to the campaign. Gillum and Letman-Hicks said most of the rest of the money went to a voter training program, knowing the service would not be provided, according to the indictment.

Instead, the money went to Lettman-Hicks’s company. He kept some and sent the others back to Gillum in multiple payments ranging from almost $ 3,600 to $ 10,000 each.

It’s the latest problem for Gillum, who lost to Republican Gov. Ron DeSadis in a fight that required a recount. Gillu lost 32,464 votes to be elected to more than 8.2 million ballots.

Gillum served as mayor of Tallahassee before running for governor. He won a busy Democrat qualifier against better-funded candidates with 34.4% of the vote, impressing political observers. The charismatic politician won the hearts of hardline democratic activists and waged a strong grassroots campaign.

After the defeat, Gillum was still considered a rising star in democratic politics and was hired as a CNN analyst.

Then, in March 2020, Gillum was found drunk and unconscious in a hotel room with two men, including one working as an escort. Two days later he entered a rehabilitation center and later did a TV interview in which he said he was bisexual.

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