Andrew Gillum, who was once a gubernatorial candidate of Florida and former mayor of Tallahassee, was charged with a 21-count federal indictment on Wednesday for wire fraud, related conspiracy charges and making false statements, reports NBC News.
According to a Department of Justice, Gillum, along with his mentor, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, have been charged with fraudulently fundraising from "various entities" between 2016 to 2019. Also, the Justice Department said the two allegedly transferred some of the funds to a company controlled by Lettman-Hicks, “who fraudulently disguised the funds as payroll payments to Gillum.”
Gillum and his legal team claim they are innocent of all charges in a written statement.
“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.”
The indictment is the latest public controversy involving Gillum. In March of 2020, he was involved in an alleged sex scandal with a suspected male overdose victim in a South Beach hotel. Following the incident, Gillum, who is a married father of three, withdrew from public life and entered a drug rehabilitation center.
Previously, Gillum was under federal investigation beginning with his time as a Tallahassee mayor after he accepted gifts from lobbyists and special interest groups, which included a free New York Harbor boat ride and tickets in New York to the musical Hamilton. The gifts were given to him by an undercover FBI agent disguised as a corrupt developer with a company called Southern Pines. Although he was not charged with any wrongdoing, he agreed to pay a $5,000 fine to the state ethics committee for accepting gifts.
According to the indictment, Gillum and Lettman-Hicks face 19 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence. Gillum faces two additional charges of lying to investigators, each charge of which carries a maximum 5-year sentence.