WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday said a federal grand jury voted to indict Tallahassee’s former Democratic mayor and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements.
Gillum, 42, is facing numerous criminal charges along with his associate, Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks, 53, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida said.
Gillum, who had sought to become Florida’s first black governor, lost the 2018 race to his Republican rival, Governor Ron DeSantis, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump.
The Justice Department accused Gillum and Lettman-Hicks of conspiring to commit wire fraud by soliciting funds using “fraudulent promises” between 2016 and 2019.
The money they obtained was then allegedly funneled to a company Lettman-Hicks owned, and disguised as payroll payments that Gillum obtained for his own personal use, the department said.
Both Gillum and Lettman-Hicks are facing 19 counts of wire fraud, and Gillum is also charged with making false statements to the FBI.
In a statement provided to NBC News, Gillum said the case was politically motivated. “There’s been a target on my back ever since I was the mayor of Tallahassee,” he said. “They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now.”
(Reporting by Sarah N. LynchEditing by Bill Berkrot)
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