Florida man Stephen Alford, linked to Gaetz’s alleged conspiracy, indicted in $ 25 million scheme
Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) exits the committee room during a hearing with the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies and the Information System in the Rayburn House Office Building on May 14, 2021 in Washington, DC.
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Man allegedly at the center of an extortion plot involving Florida Representative Matt Gaetz and his family has been charged with participating in a scheme to defraud a victim of $ 25 million, in part by falsely promising that he could get a presidential pardon.
A grand jury has indicted Florida resident Stephen Alford, 62, with wire fraud under the pardon program, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Alford was also accused of trying to prevent the seizure of his iPhone by the government, said the grand jury indictment, which was signed by an examining magistrate on Aug. 18.
Alford was arrested earlier Tuesday and first appeared in federal court, the North Florida District Attorney’s Office said in a press release. He faces up to 25 years in prison for the alleged crimes, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Gaetz, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, is under investigation by the Department of Justice over whether the 39-year-old congressman had sex with a 17-year-old girl, said reported The New York Times in March.
Gaetz, at the time of this report’s publication, had linked the Justice Department’s investigation to the alleged $ 25 million “organized criminal extortion” program against him and his father, Don Gaetz.
Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing. He has not been charged with a felony.
An April 1 Times article, which described Alford as a real estate agent who had previously been convicted of fraud, said he and former Air Force intelligence officer Robert Kent approached Don Gaetz to ask him to fund an attempt to rescue an American hostage in Iran. .
They reportedly told Don Gaetz, 73, that securing that hostage, Robert Levinson, could help secure a pardon for his son in case he was charged with federal crimes.
Don Gaetz then hired a lawyer and contacted the FBI, the Times reported. Kent has denied the allegations.
The grand jury indictment did not refer to Matt Gaetz, Don Gaetz, Levinson or Kent by their full names.
Instead, he said Alford gave “Person A” the “DG” phone number in order to “discuss the alleged release of RL from captivity in Iran and an alleged” federal investigation in course “on family member A of DG”
In an SMS, “it was indicated to the DG that the partner of person A will ensure that [Family Member A] receives a presidential pardon, thereby alleviating all his legal problems, ”the indictment affirmed.
Alford then wrote a letter, titled “Project Homecoming,” which referred to an “FBI investigation into various issues of public corruption and public integrity” related to Family member A, “as well as a” pardon. presidential “and demand for $ 25 million to” “immediately fund the release” of RL “, according to the indictment.
The letter allegedly indicated that this money was to be “deposited in a trust account at law firm A”.
Alford’s letter also incorrectly asserted that his “” team has been assured by the President “that he” will strongly consider “a” Presidential pardon “” or that he will ask the Department of Justice to call off any investigation into the “family member A” if RL is released from captivity, according to the indictment.
Alford also falsely promised DG: “I will assure you that [Family Member A] will come out of his problems “, and said he could” guarantee “that this family member” does not go to jail “.