Former Democrat ‘Star’ Now Facing Years In Prison On Federal Charges

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

Florida politics was dominated by Andrew Gillum 5 years ago. During his tenure as mayor of Tallahassee, he was well-known nationwide. During the 2018 Democratic primary for governor of Florida, he won the nomination. It was a very close race between him and Ron DeSantis, with the margin of victory being just 0.41 percentage points.

Afterward, the disgracing fall took place. Gillum was discovered by police in addition to a male drug overdose victim in a South Beach hotel room in 2020.

As part of the investigation conducted by a federal grand jury, he was indicted last year on charges of lying to federal agents and defrauding organizations and mega-donors who believed they were contributing to a legitimate political cause.

Democrat Andrew Gillum, 43, and his political consultant Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks, 54, are on trial in federal court in Tallahassee starting on Monday.

A jury trial is expected to reveal a surprising amount of information about a federal corruption investigation.

This includes secret recordings involving Gillum and his brother, Marcus, as well as statements from undercover FBI agents.

“Gillum has denied the allegations against him. But the federal corruption probe that led to charges against Gillum has already led to convictions against another former Tallahassee mayor and a local developer. “This is our chance to show Andrew’s innocence, and we’re looking forward to it,” said his attorney, David O. Markus of Miami, this week. Gillum was indicted on federal fraud charges,” according to the Miami Herald.

The government accuses Gillum of soliciting political contributions under false pretenses, routing the money through Lettman-Hicks’ communications company, and then distributing the money to Gillum. The day after he lost the 2018 election, for example, Gillum emailed his campaign staff and said he was assigning Lettman-Hicks to oversee the campaign budgets.

The campaign then transferred $60,000 to Lettman-Hicks’ communications company, called P&P Communications, for expenses relating to get-out-the-vote efforts, federal prosecutors allege. P&P Communications then made four $5,000 transfers, called “bonuses,” to Gillum’s personal account. The indictment alleges that nearly $57,000 in campaign and other contributions was illegally steered into Gillum’s personal account. Gillum is also charged with lying to FBI agents. During the FBI’s sprawling public corruption investigation in Tallahassee, undercover agents posing as developers paid for parts of a 2016 trip Gillum and his brother took to New York City. The indictment alleges agents paid for his room at the Millennium Hilton hotel, his food and drink, a boat ride around New York Harbor and a ticket to the hit Broadway show “Hamilton.”

During a 2017 interview with FBI agents, Gillum denied ever getting gifts from the supposed “developers.” But on Tuesday, a federal grand jury indicted Gillum and Lettman-Hicks. Two wire fraud counts were dropped.

Markus called it “outrageous” that the revised indictment was out less than a week before trial. Gary Milligan, Assistant U.S. Attorney, says, “We had our reasons.” Lettman-Hicks and Gillum didn’t ask for the trial to be delayed.

Gillum could spend years in federal prison. There’s a maximum sentence of 20 years for each of the 17 wire fraud counts and one conspiracy count, but if he’s convicted, the penalties will likely be served concurrently. A maximum of five years in prison can be imposed for making false statements to the FBI.

“He has pleaded not guilty and accused the investigation of being political. “There’s been a target on my back ever since I was the mayor of Tallahassee,” he said after he was indicted. “They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now.” He has denied knowing anything about what Lettman-Hicks was doing with the campaign accounts. In 2017, he told reporters that his brother, Marcus, gave him the ticket to “Hamilton.” During a procedural hearing on Thursday, Gillum greeted and shook hands with the two reporters in court. He took an active role in the proceeding, reviewing documents and evidence. Afterward, he hugged and thanked his mother, who was watching from the gallery,” the Herald reported continued.

Lettman-Hicks was Gillum’s friend and mentor during his political rise, which followed his childhood growing up in Miami’s Richmond Heights. Gillum is a godparent to her child. From 2001 to 2009, she was an executive vice president for the progressive advocacy group People for the American Way. In 2014, then-President Barack Obama named her to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. She ran for a seat on the Florida House of Representatives last year, until she ended her campaign following the federal indictment. She has also pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Judge Allen C. Winsor, picked by Donald Trump for the federal bench in 2018, is presiding. He was Florida’s solicitor general under then-Attorney General Pam Bondi, overseeing civil and criminal appeals. Gillum tried to have the case dismissed on political grounds last year, but Winsor rejected his request. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Winsor found no evidence of discrimination from Gillum’s lawyers. Lettman-Hicks and Gillum also wanted separate trials, but Winsor ruled their cases were too connected to separate.


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