Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum facing federal fraud, conspiracy charges

Sharon Lettman-Hicks, CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, is also facing charges.

Andrew Gillum, a former mayor of Tallahassee and 2018 Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has been indicted on 21 counts, including fraud, conspiracy and making false statements.

An associate of Gillum’s, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, who is listed as the CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, has also been indicted, according to a release from the Department of Justice. Both Gillum and Lettman-Hicks face 19 counts of wire fraud. Gillum is also accused of making false statements to FBI agents.

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According to the Department of Justice, between 2016 and 2019, Gillum and Lettman-Hicks unlawfully asked for money, “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 that the two diverted a portion of the money to a company owned by Lettman-Hicks. The monies were then disguised as payroll payments and diverted to Gillum for his personal use, the DOJ said.

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Gillum has faced legal issues before. He was also investigated by the FBI in 2015 surrounding corruption in Tallahassee while he was mayor.

Then in March of 2020, police and fire personnel were called to a Miami Beach hotel for a suspected drug overdose. Police say Gillum and two other men were in the hotel room where drugs were found. He later announced he was entering a rehab facility, saying he had fallen into a depression and alcohol abuse after losing his bid for governor to Ron DeSantis in 2018.

Gillum and Lettman-Hicks could face the following maximum terms if convicted; up to 20 years for wire fraud and up to 20 years for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Gillum could face up to five years for making false statements.

2019 STORY: Gillum questions could focus on campaign finance violations

Marc Elias, Partner at the Elias Law Group and David Oscar Markus of Markus/Moss released the following statement regarding the proceedings involving Gillum:

“The government got it wrong today. The evidence in this case is clear and will show that Mr. Gillum is innocent of all charges. We look forward to putting this case to rest and giving Andrew and his family peace of mind once and for all.”

Read: CDC investigating ‘very serious’ outbreak of meningococcal disease in Florida

Gillum released the following statement:

“I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people. 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 DOJ said an indictment is an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt.

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