Former Democrat gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum was indicted Wednesday on campaign contribution fraud charges stemming from his 2018 run for governor of Florida.
A federal grand jury returned a twenty-one count indictment alleging that that between 2016 and 2019, Gillum, 42, and co-defendant Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks, conspired to commit wire fraud by illegally “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,” CBS News Miami reported.
The indictment also alleges Gillum and Lettman-Hicks 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.
The former Tallahassee mayor is also charged with making false statements to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Gillum’s attorneys, Marc Elias and David Oscar Markus, issued the following statement: “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.”
In a written statement, Gillum also proclaimed his innocence.
“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.”
In found guilty, Gillum and his co-defendant face five years in prison for making false statements, 20 years for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and 20 years for wire fraud, according to authorities.
Gillum and his former campaign treasurer Adam Corey were both the subjects of a Florida ethics investigation and an FBI corruption probe, stemming from his time as the Mayor of Tallahassee.
The state’s ethics commission concluded in January of 2019 that there was probable cause that Gillum violated Florida’s ethics law when he allegedly accepted gifts from Corey, a Tallahassee entrepreneur, and undercover FBI agents posing as developers. In April of 2019, Gillum agreed Wednesday to pay a $5,000 fine in a settlement reached with a state ethics-commission attorney.
Gillum, who is married, and Corey were rumored to have been in a long term intimate relationship.
Police found the former mayor vomiting in the bathroom of Mondrian South Beach, and one of the men was treated for a possible drug overdose. There were three baggies of crystal meth on the bed and floor at the time, police said.
Former president Barack Obama and Joe Biden both campaigned for Gillum in 2018.
Obama said the stakes were high, and the consequences of staying home were “dangerous.”
Former President Barack Obama speaks at a rally in Miami for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum: "The stakes really are that high … America is at a crossroads" pic.twitter.com/4nRzS9d5Sf
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 2, 2018
“You want change in the state? Well, you got the guy behind me who’s going to change it!” Biden bellowed. “You just need a man or woman with character,” he added.
Live: Andrew Gillum holds early voting rally in Tampa with former Vice President Joe Biden https://t.co/ziUbFepNO3
— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) October 22, 2018
Gillum narrowly lost the gubernatorial election in 2018 to Republican Ron DeSantis by 32,000 votes in a state with more than 21 million people.