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The brother-in-law of former Georgia Democrat candidate for governor, Stacey Abrams, has been arrested on charges of human trafficking and touching a minor.
Jimmie Gardner, the husband of U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, who was appointed by former President Obama and who was said to be on President Joe Biden’s shortlist for the Supreme Court, was arrested this week, the Office of the State Attorney of Florida, Susan S. Lopez, said.
“Jimmie Gardner, a youth motivational speaker and brother-in-law of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, is facing serious charges of human trafficking and is currently in jail in Hillsborough County with no bond. Gardner is scheduled to face a judge in first appearance court in Tampa tomorrow,” the office said.
“Tampa Police arrested Gardner this morning after his 16-year-old victim called police to report Gardner committed sex acts on her at the Renaissance Hotel at International Plaza. His victim says Gardner paid her money and later became angry and choked her when she refused to have sex. His booking charges include human trafficking, lewd and lascivious touching of certain minors, and battery,” the office said.
“Gardner, who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1984, was wrongly convicted in the 1987 sexual assault of two women in West Virginia. He was exonerated in 2016 and released from prison 27 years after his wrongful conviction. Two years later, he married Georgia Federal Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner. He currently lives in Georgia and works as a motivational speaker and emotional intelligence trainer for students and people who were formerly incarcerated,” it said.
“Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence. Our attorneys will prosecute this case as we would any other offender who is alleged to have committed these crimes. We take these charges very seriously,” the State Attorney said.
A press release from the Tampa Police Department said that Gardner met the teenager at 1:43 a.m. and asked her to come to his room at the Renaissance Hotel at International Plaza, WFLA reported.
The teenager agreed, but when she got to his room, he offered her a payment in exchange for sex.
“The victim initially agreed but later told Gardner that she no longer wanted to engage and he became angry,” it said. “Gardner advised the victim that she needed to leave his hotel room. The two got involved in a verbal altercation that escalated to a physical dispute after Gardner placed his hands around the victim’s neck, impeding her breathing. After the dispute, Gardner left the hotel room, and the victim called 911.
In March, it was reported that the Georgia Secretary of State’s office launched an investigation into a charity linked to two-time failed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams following a bombshell report alleging improprieties surrounding finances.
The Washington Free Beacon was first to report on the allegations and followed up the initial report to note that Georgia election officials are now conducting an investigation.
“Georgia’s secretary of state has opened an investigation into ‘financial irregularities’ surrounding the New Georgia Project, a voting-rights charity founded by Stacey Abrams, individuals familiar with the matter,” told the outlet, according to the Monday report.
The outlet noted that the New Georgia Project is facing investigations into alleged financial mismanagement by former executives, following reports by the Free Beacon. The organization’s latest tax filings have also raised legal and accounting questions, prompting authorities to issue subpoenas to affiliated parties.
After being founded by Abrams in 2013, the New Georgia Project became one of the leading voter registration groups in the country. Between the New Georgia Project and its affiliated New Georgia Project Action Fund, they have raised a combined total of $54.7 million since 2020.
The Free Beacon uncovered several inconsistencies in the financial disclosures of the New Georgia Project, the outlet noted.
The discrepancies include a payment of half a million dollars for consulting services to a charity that is partly run by the brother of Nsé Ufot, the former CEO of the New Georgia Project who was terminated for undisclosed reasons.