By Nicole Silverio
A federal grand jury indicted former Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and the National Black Justice Coalition chief executive officer Sharon Lettman-Hicks Wednesday for false statements, wire fraud and conspiracy.
The 21 count indictment, filed on June 7, alleges that Gillum and Lettman-Hicks conspired to commit wire fraud by obtaining funds from “various entities” and individuals through “false and fraudulent promises” between 2016 and 2019, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida announced in a press release. The funds were allegedly diverted to a company owned by Lettman-Hicks through third parties, then disguised as payments to Gillum for personal use.
— U.S. Attorney NDFL (@NDFLnews) June 22, 2022
Both are individually charged with 19 counts of wire fraud, the attorney’s office announced. Gillum is additionally charged with making false statements to the FBI in 2017 during a corruption investigation when he served as Mayor of Tallahassee and during his gubernatorial candidacy against then-Republican Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis. (RELATED: Report: Andrew Gillum Used Official Government Account To Fund Campaigning)
“On or about June 14, 2017, in the Northern District of Florida, the defendant, Andrew Demetric Gillum, did knowingly and willfully make materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations in a matter within the executive branch of the Government of the United States, that is, during a criminal investigation of public corruption involving the City of Tallahassee conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” the indictment said.
Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen M. Kunz and Andrew J. Grogan are prosecuting the case, according to the release.
Wire fraud and conspiracy can both lead up to 20 years imprisonment each, the release stated. Gillum could face an extra 5 years for his charge of making false statements.
They were both arrested by the FBI Wednesday and scheduled to make their first appearance in federal court at the United States Courthouse in Tallahassee in the Magistrate’s Judge’s Courtroom at 2 p.m., according to the release. The former Tallahassee mayor surrendered himself to FBI agents at 10 a.m., NBC News reported.
Gillum proclaimed his innocence of the charges against him in a Wednesday statement, accusing the case of being “political,” according to WFSU.
“I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people,” he said in a statement. “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.”
His attorneys, Marc Elias and David Oscar Markus, released a joint statement vowing to fight for Gillum, the outlet reported.
“The government got it wrong today. The evidence in this case is clear and will show that Mr. Gillum is innocent of all charges. We look forward to putting this case to rest and giving Andrew and his family peace of mind once and for all.”
Gillum, who was married with three children, was discovered drunk inside a Miami Beach hotel room with gay porn star Travis Dyson in March 2020. Dyson was suspected to have been high on crystal meth at the time.