After two weeks of trial and five days of deliberation, the jury in the Andrew Gillum / Sharon Lettman-Hicks political corruption trial left charges hanging over the defendants, reaching a verdict on only one of the 19 counts.
Today, the jury deliberating the federal corruption case against former gubernatorial candidate and Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum and his longtime mentor and campaign advisor Sharon Lettman-Hicks, found Gillum not guilty of lying to the FBI but were deadlocked over the other 18 charges of wire fraud. The Government attorneys prosecuting the case immediately said they would retry Gillum and Lettman-Hicks on the fraud charges.
The alleged co-conspirators were charged in June 2022 with one count of conspiracy and 17 counts of wire fraud. Gillum was also charged with lying to the FBI about a 2016 trip to New York City with under cover FBI agents, posing as real estate developers wanting to do business in Tallahassee and for lying about when he ended his relationship with those agents. Two counts of wire fraud were dropped a week prior to commencement of the trial, which began on April 17.
Gillum and Lettman-Hicks are the latest to face charges in the long running FBI undercover investigation, known as Operation Capital Currency, which exposed political corruption in Florida’s capital city. Another former Tallahassee mayor, Scott Maddox, his partner Paige Carter-Smith and business associate John Thomas “JT” Burnette were sentenced to federal prison in 2021 as part of the same investigation.
The nine day trial saw Gillum painted by the defense as the former golden child of the Florida Democrat Party, targeted unfairly by the FBI, particularly by one agent the defense labeled as “biased.”
“Over and over and over again, Mr. Gillum demonstrates his good faith,” said David Markus, a Miami attorney representing Gillum. “They tried to get him to cross a line and he wouldn’t, because he’s a good and honest and law-abiding man.”
On the other hand, the government argued Gillum is a politician skilled at being truthful when beneficial and lying when the truth would harm him. Federal prosecutors accused Gillum and Lettman-Hicks of skimming money away from nonprofit grants awarded to third parties easily manipulated by the accused and then directly into bank accounts of Gillum or Lettman-Hicks. The money, according to prosecutors, was needed to replace the former mayor’s salary after he resigned from the People for the American Way Foundation in early 2017, ahead of his bid for Florida governor.
“You’ll see the pattern repeating over and over,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Grogan said. “Once the money comes in, it goes right out to pay his salary.”
The 12 jurors took nearly 40 hours stretched over six days to deliberate.