Former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, who lost the 2018 general election to Gov. Ron DeSantis by just 30,000 votes, has been indicted by a federal jury on a combined 21 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, and providing false statements. The indictment also names Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks, a former Democrat campaign consultant who served as one of Gillum’s closest advisors.
The indictment alleges that between 2016 and 2019, defendants Gillum and Lettman-Hicks conspired to commit wire fraud by unlawfully 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.
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. Both defendants are charged with 19 counts of wire fraud. Gillum is also charged with making false statements to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
While the indictment was presented, it does not inherently assume Gillum’s guilt, with a future trial set to take place. The former politician has maintained innocence, claiming that he has a “target on his back.”
“I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people,” Gillum said in a statement Wednesday morning. “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 wire-fraud and conspiracy charges carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison for each count, however federal sentencing guidelines could allow sentences to be served concurrently. Should Gillum or Lettman-Hicks be found guilty on all counts, each could face up to 45 years in jail. Gillum has tapped high-level Democrat lawyer Marc Elias to serve as his defense.
“The government got it wrong today. The evidence in this case is clear and will show that Mr. Gillum is innocent of all charges,” said Elias in a statement first published on Twitter by Politico journalist Matt Dixon. “We look forward to putting this case to rest and giving Andrew and his family peace of mind once and for all,” the lawyers said in the joint statement.”
Gillum has been absent from the Florida political scene since he found himself marred in scandal. In March 2020, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that Gillum was one of three men, one of whom was experiencing a drug overdose, who was found with “plastic baggies of suspected crystal meth” in a hotel room in Miami Beach. Though no arrests were made. Gillum was too inebriated to speak with police at the scene, according to the subsequent police report.
On March 16, Gillum stated that he would enter rehabilitation, citing struggles with alcohol after narrowly losing the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race.