Ron DeSantis' former Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum is indicted on 21 counts of fraud charges in Tallahassee, then vows to fight 'political' charges

  • Democrat Andrew Gillum has been indicted on 21 counts of fraud
  • Charges are related to his 2018 gubenatorial campaign
  • Gillum was defeated in that race by Republican Ron DeSantis
  • Feds charge Gillum and co-defendant Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks with wire fraud and unlawfully soliciting funds
  • Gillum denies the charges

Democrat Andrew Gillum, once a rising strar in the party, has been indicted on multiple federal charges connected to campaign contribution fraud during his 2018 run for governor of Florida.

A federal grand jury has returned a twenty-one count indictment against Gillum, 42.

The Justice Department charges that Gillum and co-defendant Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks conspired to commit wire fraud, by unlawfully soliciting funds from various entities and individuals through fraudulent promises.

The indictment also alleges Gillum and Lettman-Hicks used third parties to divert a portion of those funds to a company owned by Lettman-Hicks, who then fraudulently provided the funds, disguised as payroll payments, to Gillum for his personal use. 

He and his longtime associate Lettman-Hicks, 53, have been arrested. They both surrendered to the FBI and are scheduled to have their first court appearance at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the U.S. Courthouse in Tallahassee.

Gillum, who withdrew from public life after a March 2020 sex scandal involving a suspected male overdose victim in a South Beach hotel room, denied any wrongdoing. 

'I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people,' he said in a prepared statement. 'Every campaign I've run has been done with integrity. Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political.'

Democrat Andrew Gillum has been indicted on multiple federal charges connected to campaign contribution fraud during his 2018 run for governor of Florida

Democrat Andrew Gillum has been indicted on multiple federal charges connected to campaign contribution fraud during his 2018 run for governor of Florida

The Justice Department charges that Gillum and co-defendant Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks (above) conspired to commit wire fraud

The Justice Department charges that Gillum and co-defendant Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks (above) conspired to commit wire fraud

Sharon Letterman-Hicks with Barack Obama and Andrew Gillum

Sharon Letterman-Hicks with Barack Obama and Andrew 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,' attorney Marc Elias said.

Gillum said the charges were political.

'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,' he noted.

The combined charges could result in 45 years in prison if convicted. 

He was serving as mayor of Tallahassee when he ran for govenror in 2018.

He was the first black nominee for governor in Florida's history but lost the general election to Republican Ron DeSantis, who now serves as governor. The race was close with Gillum losing by less than 1 percentage point.

Gillum garned national attention for that race, which saw prominent Democrats like Barack Obama campaign for him. DeSantis was endorsed by President Donald Trump.

But Gillum also found himself in the spotlight afterward when he was found in a hotel room with two other men and drug paraphernalia. The married father of three later came out as bisexual and has been to rehab.

Gillum (pictured with wife R. Jai) revealed in 2020 that his downward spiral first began after his close loss to Ron DeSantis in the 2018 Florida Governor's race

Gillum (pictured with wife R. Jai) revealed in 2020 that his downward spiral first began after his close loss to Ron DeSantis in the 2018 Florida Governor's race

Andrew Gillum his wife R. Jai and three children Caroline, Jackson and Davis on election day in 2018 in Tallahassee, Florida

Andrew Gillum his wife R. Jai and three children Caroline, Jackson and Davis on election day in 2018 in Tallahassee, Florida

Gillum lost the 2018 Florida gubenatorial race to Republican Ron DeSantis

Gillum lost the 2018 Florida gubenatorial race to Republican Ron DeSantis

In March 2020, Gillum was found in a hotel room with plastic baggies of suspected crystal meth, empty beer bottles and prescription pills. 

He was too 'inebriated' to tell cops what went down when they arrived at Miami's Mondrian Hotel when they arrived.

He was inside room 1107 with two more men, one of them a hunky 30-year-old male escort named Travis Dyson, who was found naked and in the throes of a drug overdose.

A police report says the third man, Aldo Mejias, 56, dialed 911 when fitness freak Dyson began vomiting and collapsed.

He later told officers from the Miami Beach Police Department that he had walked in to find Gillum and Dyson 'under the influence of an unknown substance' and Gillum, 40, vomiting in the bathroom.

At the time he denied taking drugs and issued an apology.

'I was in Miami last night for a wedding celebration when first responders were called to assist one of my friends,' he said in a statement at the time. 'While I had too much to drink, I want to be clear that I have never used methamphetamine. 

'I apologize to the people of Florida for the distraction this has caused our movement.' 

Gillum later went to rehab, saying he had fallen into a depression and alcohol abuse after his loss to DeSantis. He also resigned as a CNN contributor and withdrew from public political life. 

In September 2020, Gillum came out as bisexual in an interview with Tamron Hall. 

'You didn't ask the question but I don't identify as gay. I identify as bisexual. I've never shared that publicly before,' Gillum, once considered a rising star of the Democratic party, said.

He told Hall his downward spiral first began after his close loss to DeSantis in the 2018 Florida Governor's race, when he began drinking heavily - even putting whiskey in his morning coffee. 

He said he has 'cried every day' since his sudden fall from grace. 

Advertisement

Andrew Gillum is indicted on 21 counts of fraud charges in Tallahassee

The comments below have not been moderated.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.