Former Florida Democrat gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and an associate were indicted Wednesday on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, and making false statements.
Gillum, 42, and Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks, 53, were accused of unlawfully soliciting and obtaining funds from various entities and individuals between 2016-19 through false and fraudulent promises and representations indicating the funds would be used for a legitimate purpose, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Jason R. Coody announced.
The 21-count indictment also alleges that the defendants used third parties to divert a portion of those funds to a company owned by Lettman-Hicks, who then fraudulently provided the funds, disguised as payroll payments, to Gillum for his personal use.
Both defendants were charged with 19 counts of wire fraud. Gillum also was charged with making false statements to the FBI.
Gillum and Lettman-Hicks could face up to five years for making false statements, 20 years for conspiracy to commit fraud, and 20 years for wire fraud.
Gillum, who lost to Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2018, told associates he expected to be indicted in federal court as early as Wednesday, NBC News said earlier in the day.
Gillum, in a written statement to NBC News, acknowledged the case.
"I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people," Gillum told NBC News. "Every campaign I've run has been done with integrity.
"Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political. Throughout my career I have always stood up for the people of Florida and have spoken truth to power.
"There's been a target on my back ever since I was the mayor of Tallahassee. They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now."
Democrat lawyer Marc Elias and criminal defense attorney David Oscar Markus told NBC News that they would fight to clear Gillum's name.
"The government got it wrong today. The evidence in this case is clear and will show that Mr. Gillum is innocent of all charges," the attorneys told NBC News in a joint statement.
"We look forward to putting this case to rest and giving Andrew and his family peace of mind once and for all."
In May 2019, a federal grand jury subpoena was issued for information on Gillum, his campaign and his political committee.
The subpoena demanded "documents, electronically stored information, or objects" dating back to January 2015 about Gillum, his 2018 gubernatorial campaign and his political committee, Forward Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Gillum is no stranger to scandal. In March 2020, he was discovered in a Miami hotel room inebriated and with a man suspected of overdosing on crystal meth. The married father of three then withdrew from public life as a political leader and a paid CNN commentator.
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