Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who Ron DeSantis edged in the 2018 gubernatorial race, was charged by the U.S. Justice Department for wire fraud and making false statements to the FBI.
The U.S. Attorney Office for the Northern District of Florida issued the charges this week after a grand jury had been investigating Gillum in recent months. Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks, a top advisor to Gillum, was also charged.
“A federal grand jury has returned a twenty-one count indictment against Andrew Demetric Gillum, 42, and Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks, 53, both of Tallahassee, Florida. The indictment was announced by Jason R. Coody, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida,” the U.S. Justice Department announced. “The Indictment alleges that between 2016 and 2019, defendants Gillum and Lettman-Hicks conspired to commit wire fraud, by unlawfully soliciting and obtaining funds from various entities and individuals through false and fraudulent promises and representations that the funds would be used for a legitimate purpose. The Indictment further alleges 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 are charged with 19 counts of wire fraud. Gillum is also charged with making false statements to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“The initial appearance is scheduled for Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at 2:00 pm, at the United States Courthouse in Tallahassee in the Magistrate Judge’s Courtroom on the main floor,” the Justice Department continued. “The maximum terms of imprisonment for the offenses are as follows: 5 years: Making False Statements; 20 years: Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud; 20 years: Wire Fraud.
“The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen M. Kunz and Andrew J. Grogan,” the Justice Department added. “An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Gillum insisted in a statement to NBC News that these charges were political though he has been under federal investigation for accepting gifts from lobbyists and interests for years, including for accepting Broadway tickets in a sting operation
“I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people,” Gillum said. “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.”
After his narrow loss to DeSantis, Gillum was considered a rising star for Democrats but in 2020 he overdosed on drugs while in the company of a male escort. After going to rehab, Gillum came out as bisexual.
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