Andrew Gillum pleads not guilty to conspiracy and fraud

Andrew Gillum pleads not guilty to conspiracy and fraud

Andrew Gillum pleads not guilty to conspiracy and fraud

  • Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum was charged Wednesday with fraud and conspiracy.
  • Gillum, who lost to Governor Ron DeSantis by just 30,000 votes in 2018, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
  • Gillum withdrew from public life in 2020 after a much-discussed sex scandal.

Andrew Gillum, the former mayor of Tallahassee who narrowly lost the 2018 race to become governor of Florida, was charged Wednesday with conspiracy and wire fraud charges.

Gillum, 42, was indicted in a 21 count indictment alleging that he and his longtime adviser had become co-defendant Sharon Lettman-Hicks, conspiring to commit wire fraud by “unlawfully soliciting and obtaining money” using “fake and fraudulent promises,” federal prosecutors. said in a statement announcing the allegations.

The Justice Department also alleged that Gillum and Lettman-Hicks funneled some of those funds to a Lettman-Hicks communications company, which in turn “disguised” the funds as payroll payments and gave them to Gillum for personal use.

Gillum also faces an additional count of lying to the FBI. Prosecutors alleged that Gillum falsely told investigating officers that he had not received anything from the undercover FBI agents posing as representatives of a company called Southern Pines. According to the indictment, the representatives had actually given Gillum a hotel room, meals, a boat trip through New York Harbor and tickets to the Broadway show ‘Hamilton’.

Gillum surrendered to authorities on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty in a trial. Lettman-Hicks also pleaded not guilty.

Wednesday’s indictment said the FBI first began investigating Gillum and Lettman-Hicks in 2016, when Gillum was still the mayor of Tallahassee. According to the indictment, the investigation initially began in 2015 as a public corruption inquiry, which eventually expanded into Gillum’s activities.

Prosecutors alleged that Gillum and Lettman-Hicks used Gillum’s influence as mayor and Democratic Party rising star to raise grant money under the guise of campaigning or offering voter education, when in reality they were using the money for their own “personal benefit.” used.

Gillum, who lost the Florida election to Governor Ron DeSantis by just 30,000 votes, has achieved national fame in the years since the loss, culminating in a sex scandal in 2020.

Gillum withdrew from public life and entered rehab after the episode, citing alcoholism and


depression

after he was found drunk in a hotel room with a male escort who had allegedly overdosed on methamphetamine.

In an interview about six months later, Gillum came out as bisexual and suggested that he might one day run for public office again.

In a statement on Wednesday, Gillum reiterated that he was not guilty and said the case against him “isn’t legal, it’s political”.

“Ever since I was mayor of Tallahassee, I’ve had a target on my back,” Gillum said. “They found nothing then and I am confident that my legal team will now prove my innocence.”