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Former Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Gillum Arrested By Feds On Fraud Charges

Once a rising political star, the former Tallahassee mayor is in the midst of his latest legal trouble, but maintains his innocence.

Andrew Gillum, the 2018 Democratic nominee for Florida governor and former Tallahassee mayor, was reportedly arrested on Wednesday (June 22) on federal campaign-related charges after a lengthy investigation into public corruption in the city.

According to USA Today, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, a longtime advisor to Gillum, was also arrested on the same charges. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida confirmed the charges in an announcement. Both were named as defendants in a 21-count indictment. They both stand accused of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making false statements to a federal investigator.

According to the federal indictment, between 2016 and 2019, Gillum, 42 and Lettman-Hicks, 53, 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."

They are also accused of using third parties to divert funds to a company owned by Lettman-Hicks, who is CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, a Black LGBTQ civil rights organization. The funds were then provided to Gillum for his personal use disguised as payroll payments.

The two were both taken into custody by federal authorities and appeared in court on Wednesday afternoon. Both also pleaded not guilty to the charges, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

In a statement sent through his campaign, Gillum denied any wrongdoing.

"I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people," Gillum said in the statement, according to USA Today. "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,” he continued. “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."

Attempts by BET.com to contact the NJBC for comment on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

The development continues what seems to be a years long downward spiral from what had been a bright political future. First elected mayor of Tallahassee in 2014, he continued a climb up the political ladder facing off against Ron DeSantis in the 2018 gubernatorial election. But he lost by less than a single percentage point, preventing him from becoming Florida’s first Black governor. Despite that, Gillum’s star continued to rise and was a sought after political commentator and contributor, most notably for CNN.

It all changed in 2020 when Gillum was found severely intoxicated in a Miami Beach hotel room where emergency responders were called to tend to another man who had reportedly overdosed on methamphetamines. One man in the room was claimed to be a male escort while another man in the room was said to be a friend of Gillum’s, according to the Florida Times-Union. Photos of the incident first circulated in a British tabloid, forcing Gillum to issue a statement.

"I understand very well what people assumed about that," he continued. "When that photo came out, I didn’t recognize the person on the floor. That was not anything more than a person being at their most vulnerable state. Unconscious, having given no consent and someone decided to use a moment where I was literally laying in my own vomit.”

RELATED: Andrew Gillum Tells Tamron Hall He Identifies As Bisexual In First Interview

After the incident, Gillum largely withdrew from public life but resurfaced recently, reportedly posting on social media on political topics.

However, the investigation into the alleged fraud involving him and Lettman-Hicks predates the hotel incident and the election by a few years. Despite the allegations, for which there previously had been no indictment, Gillum continued his political ambitions, denying he had anything to do with public corruption, including allegations of misconduct during his 2014 mayoral campaign. However, he was cleared of those charges in 2017, according to the Democrat.

If convicted both Gillum and Lettman-Hicks face as much as 45 years in prison.

Their trial date was set for Aug. 16, but will likely be moved back, according to the Democrat.

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