Former Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has been arrested on charges including conspiracy and 19 counts of wire fraud, according to an announcement made by the Department of Justice.
Gillum, who once served as the mayor of Tallahassee and ran against Ron DeSantis for the governorship in Florida is accused of acting in concert with associate Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks to solicit funds using false representations and promises that the funds would be used for a legitimate purpose.
According to the DOJ, Gillum worked with Lettman-Hicks to funnel campaign related funds into his own personal account.
“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,” a Justice Department press release said.
The Justice Department said the scheme went on from 2016 to 2019.
Local reporting from the Tallahassee Democrat indicated that the charges are based on campaign contributions that Gillum and Lettman-Hicks allegedly solicited from undercover FBI agents.
Gillum is also being charged with making a false statement to the FBI.
If found guilty, Gillum faces up to 5 years in prison for making false statements, 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and 20 years in prison per charge for wire fraud.
Gillum’s campaign issued a statement denying any wrongdoing as the Democrat claimed that the charges were purely political – despite being issued by the Department of Justice overseen by the Biden administration.
“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.”
The Democrat nearly secured the position of Florida’s governor in 2018 but was slightly edged out by Ron DeSantis and has since been accompanied by a flurry of controversy.
In 2019, state officials brought an ethics complaint against Gillum after finding probable cause that he committed ethics violations by accepting gifts from lobbyists in 2016.
In 2020, Gillum entered rehab after police found him unresponsive in a Miami Beach hotel room with a male prostitute, condoms, and an extensive amount of what appeared to be crystal methamphetamine. While he denied using drugs, Gillum did admit to struggling with alcohol.
“Plastic baggies of suspected crystal meth, empty beer bottles and prescription pills are seen scattered among trash and soiled bedding in the shocking images,” the Daily Mail reported on the incident. “He was inside room 1107 with two more men, one of them a hunky 30-year-old male escort named Travis Dyson, who was found naked and in the throes of a drug overdose.”