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Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum indicted for fraud

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Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum indicted for fraud
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum surrounded by wife and running mate Chris King gives his concession speech to supporters in Tallahassee, Fla., on November 6, 2018. On Wednesday, he was indicted for fraud related to his political campaign. File Photo By Joe Reilly/UPI | License Photo

June 22 (UPI) -- Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum was indicted Wednesday on federal charges he illegally accepted gifts while mayor of Tallahassee, according to court documents.

Gillum's adviser, Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks was also named in an indictment in the Northern District of Florida.

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Gillum, 42, and Lettman-Hicks, 53, allegedly solicited and received funds and gifts from various lobbyists and vendors, falsely telling them the gifts would be used for a legitimate political purpose, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release.

The two were also accused of using third parties to divert the funds to a company owned by Lettman-Hicks who then gave the money to Gillum for personal use disguised as payroll payments.

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Gillum, a Democrat, served as mayor of Tallahassee from 2014 to 2018. He ran and lost against then-U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race.

According to the indictment, he solicited a $5,000 campaign contribution to his political action committee from an undercover FBI agent posing as a developer interested in purchasing property in Tallahassee. Gillum also allegedly asked the agent to pay for a fundraising dinner, lodging, food, drink and entertainment for a trip to New York City.

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In another instance, an associate of Gillum's allegedly met with two undercover agents in Nashville, asking one for $25,000 related to three projects they proposed in Tallahassee and the second for $75,000, also for three projects.

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Gillum was indicted on 19 counts of wire fraud, and one count each of making false statements and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He faces up to 20 years each on the wire fraud and conspiracy charges and five years for making false statements if convicted.

WPLG-TV in Miami reported that Gillum surrendered to authorities Wednesday. In a statement, he said the charges were politically motivated.

"There has been a target on my back ever since I was the mayor of Tallahassee," he said.

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"Every campaign I've run has been done with integrity. Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political."

Gillum is being represented by prominent Democratic attorney Marc Elias, Politico reported.

"The government got it wrong today," Elias said. "The evidence in this case is clear and will show Mr. Gillum is innocent of all charges."

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