Andrew Gillum, a former Florida gubernatorial candidate, has been charged with fraud

Written by Javed Iqbal

Former Democratic Party rising star Andrew Gillum, who came within half a percentage point of was elected governor of Florida in 2018has been indicted on federal charges, including wire fraud, and was arrested Wednesday.

Mr. Gillum, 42, denied the allegations, which he described as politically motivated. He pleaded not guilty to first-degree appearances in Tallahassee, Fla., And was released on bail.

It was the latest outburst of trouble for the former Tallahassee mayor, who encouraged liberal voters with eloquent rhetoric about economic and social justice and was narrowly defeated in his gubernatorial bid by Florida’s current governor, Republican Ron DeSantis.

In 2020, Miami Beach police officers who responded to an emergency call found Mr. Gillum in a hotel room with two other men, one of whom experienced an apparent overdose of drugs, according to a police report. Officers saw small bags of suspected crystal meth in the room, the report said. Mr. Gillum was too drunk to speak, according to officers.

In the wake of this, Mr. Gillum that he would withdraw from public life and go on rehabilitation for alcohol abuse. Later that year, as speculation swirled about his sexuality, he told a talk show host he identified as bisexual.

That Charge on 21 counts unsealed Wednesday does not involve the incident in 2020 or any drug charges, but instead relates to Mr. Gillum’s financial contacts with a political consultant, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, 53, mostly before the 2018 referendum.

The two illegally requested and obtained funds from various individuals and entities “through false and fraudulent promises and statements that the funds would be used for a legitimate purpose,” according to a press release from the Justice Department.

Mr. Gillum said in a statement from his lawyers: “Every campaign I have run has been carried out with integrity. Do not be mistaken that this case is not legal, it is political.”

Mr. Gillum also said: “There has been a goal on my back ever since I was mayor of Tallahassee.” Ms. Lettman-Hicks, who was also charged, did not respond to a request for comment.

The indictment describes a scheme in which the two defendants secured contributions from donors that were allegedly intended as Mr Gillum’s governor campaign. The defendants used third parties to redirect part of the funds to a company owned by Mrs. Lettman-Hicks, according to the indictment.

She then fraudulently gave the funds disguised as salary payments to Mr. Gillum for his personal use, it is stated in the indictment. In 2017 and 2018, he was first paid around $ 3,500 and later $ 5,000 in twice-monthly checks, according to the indictment. The payments were intended to compensate for a salary he lost when he began actively campaigning for governor and resigned from a position in an organization, the indictment states.

Mr. Gillum also made false statements to the FBI in 2017 when the agency investigated public corruption in Tallahassee, according to the indictment. Among other things, it was stated that he erroneously denied that he received offers for campaign contributions from a company used by an undercover FBI agent who pretended to be a developer.

Mr. Gillum also failed to disclose gifts he received from undercover FBI agents on a trip to New York City in 2016, including a hotel stay, a boat trip and a ticket to the Broadway show “Hamilton,” the indictment said.

The charges of wire fraud carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and the charges of making false statements have a maximum penalty of five years. Ms. Lettman-Hicks agreed to surrender to the FBI Wednesday morning, according to a lawsuit.

Write to Arian Campo-Flores at [email protected]

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Javed Iqbal

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