Former Top Democrat Star Faces Two Decades In Prison As Trial Begins


OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

The man who many believed was one of the future stars of the Democrat Party, and who was chosen to take on Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, Andrew Gillum has hit the bottom of the barrel.

He came close to defeating DeSantis in 2018, with only around 34,000 votes separating him from DeSantis. But now his trial is set to begin and he faces as many as two decades in prison.

The Miami Herald reported: “In 2020, he was found by police in a South Beach hotel room in the company of a man who appeared to have overdosed on drugs. And last year, he was indicted by a federal grand jury, accused of lying to FBI agents and defrauding campaign mega-donors and organizations that believed they were donating to legitimate political causes. Gillum, 43, and his political adviser and mentor, Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks, 54, are facing a three-week trial in federal court in Tallahassee that starts Monday. The jury trial should provide an unusual glimpse into a federal political corruption investigation, featuring potentially hours of secret recordings involving Gillum and his brother, Marcus, and testimony from undercover FBI agents.”

The former Democrat star has denied the charges against him and believes that he will be able to show his innocence in court.

“This is our chance to show Andrew’s innocence, and we’re looking forward to it,” his attorney, David O. Markus said.


He is accused of soliciting donations under false pretenses, laundering the cash through a communications company, and then having the funds paid to Gillum.

“The day after he lost the 2018 election, for example, Gillum emailed his campaign staff and said he was assigning Lettman-Hicks to oversee the campaign budgets,” The Herald reported.

“The campaign then transferred $60,000 to Lettman-Hicks’ communications company, called P&P Communications, for expenses relating to get-out-the-vote efforts, federal prosecutors allege. P&P Communications then made four $5,000 transfers, called ‘bonuses,’ to Gillum’s personal account,” it said.

A press release by the Department of Justice in June 2022 detailed the charges and potential punishments.

“A federal grand jury has returned a twenty-one count indictment against Andrew Demetric Gillum, 42, and Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks, 53, both of Tallahassee, Florida. The indictment was announced by Jason R. Coody, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida,” it said.

“The Indictment alleges that between 2016 and 2019, defendants Gillum and Lettman-Hicks 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. The Indictment further alleges the defendants 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. Both defendants are charged with 19 counts of wire fraud. Gillum is also charged with making false statements to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” the Department of Justice said.


“The maximum terms of imprisonment for the offenses are” it said, “5 years:  Making False Statements,20 years: Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, 20 years: Wire Fraud.”

But the indictment was updated on Tuesday in which two counts of wire fraud against the defendant were dropped.

“Every campaign I’ve run has been done with integrity. Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political,” he said when he was indicted. “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.”


But it is tough to believe that Attorney General Merrick Garland, appointed by President Joe Biden, a Democrat, would target a rising Democrat star for no reason.

The case is being presided over by U.S. District Judge Allen C. Winsor who was appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2018.

“Winsor has rejected several of Gillum’s requests in the case, including a request last year that the case be dismissed on political grounds. Winsor wrote that Gillum’s lawyers provided no evidence of discrimination,” The Herald said.

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