TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Andrew Gillum, a former mayor of Tallahassee who narrowly lost the 2018 Florida governor’s race to Ron DeSantis, was indicted and arrested by federal authorities on Wednesday.
Gillum, 42, and his political adviser, Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks, are charged with 19 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, WJAX-TV and the Miami Herald reported. Gillum is also facing one count of making false statements to the FBI, according to the Herald. The indictment accuses Gillum of lying to the agency about a 2016 trip to New York City, which hampered his efforts in the 2016 gubernatorial campaign, according to the newspaper.
The indictment confirmed that undercover agents, posing as business people seeking to procure government contracts in Tallahassee, paid for Gillum’s lodging at the Millennium Hilton hotel, his food and drinks, a boat ride around New York Harbor and a ticket to the Broadway show “Hamilton,” according to the Herald.
The 19 counts of wire fraud and the one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud each have a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, the newspaper reported. The false statement indictment against Gillum carries a maximum of five years in prison.
Lettman-Hicks, 53, recently qualified to run for the Florida House seat in District 8, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. She is also listed as CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, WJAX reported.
Federal prosecutors allege that Gillum and Lettman-Hicks diverted money from his political committee to pay Gillum directly, defrauding campaign donors and organizations, the Herald reported.
At their first appearance Wednesday afternoon at the U.S. Courthouse in Tallahassee, Gillum and Lettman-Hicks pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to the Democrat.
Gillum came within 34,000 votes of defeating DeSantis in the 2018 race for Florida governor, the Herald reported. That would have made him the state’s first Black governor, but personal struggles plagued him after his defeat, according to The New York Times. In 2020, the police in Miami Beach found him in a hotel where another man was suffering from a possible drug overdose, according to the newspaper.
Police said Gillum was intoxicated and a bag of crystal meth was found inside the motel room, WJAX reported. Gillum admitted he was drunk but said he did not use the drugs, according to the television station. Gillum later announced he was entering a rehab center, according to WJAX.
Gillum was elected to the Tallahassee City Commission in 2003 when he was 23 years old and won the mayor’s race in 2014, the Democrat reported. He ran for governor in 2018, securing the Democratic nomination in an upset but narrowly losing to Republican Ron DeSantis.
“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. “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.”
©2022 Cox Media Group