Man charged with $25M extortion scheme promising pardon for Rep. Matt Gaetz

According to the indictment, Alford said he could “guarantee” that a family member of Don Gaetz’s family would not go to jail if the money Alford demanded was paid. Don Gaetz told POLITICO in March that he was wearing a wire at the request of the FBI. Much of the quotes and details in the indictment appear to have come from the discussions he recorded.

In the indictment, Don Gaetz, a former Florida Senate leader, is referred to as “D.G.”. and describes the investigation the FBI intends to close over various public corruption and integrity issues.

Three other anonymous people are listed in the indictment.

“Family member A” is Matt Gaetz.

“Person A”, who first turned to Don Gaetz to discuss the project via text message, is a former US Air Force intelligence officer named Bob Kent, whom the Gaetz family identified in a March interview with POLITICO and who later identified his role into the matter with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, where Kent denied wrongdoing. Kent said McGee introduced him to Alford, who had been the attorney’s client in the past. (Alford is currently on parole for an unrelated crime of land fraud.)

“When Dave vouched for Stephen, it was good enough for me. I’ve worked with Dave for a long time, ”Kent told CNN in April.

The third person, Attorney A, is former federal attorney David McGee, the Gaetzes alleged. He has represented the interests of the Levinson family. McGee has previously denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of the plan.

In a written statement, Matt Gaetz spokesman Harlan Hill put down the “baseless allegations about him” and linked them to what he calls Alford’s “blackmail attempt”.

“The release of the Alford tapes will further relieve Rep. Gaetz and involve those with longstanding ties to the federal government,” Hill said.

Jeffrey Neiman, an attorney for Don Gaetz, would not comment on the link between the alleged shakedown and the sex crime investigation of Matt Gaetz, nor would he say whether anyone outside of Alford should be charged with a crime.

“Don provided credible information that he was the victim of a blackmail plot. After careful scrutiny and review, the Department of Justice has now responded to this information, ”said Neiman. “Don remains cooperative with the Justice Department. And he hopes that all those responsible for this fraudulent act will be held accountable. “

The alleged shakedown scheme came after news spread in the Gaetz district of northwest Florida that he was being investigated for trafficking in sex with a 17-year-old, a crime he has denied.

The allegations against Gaetz were spread by Joel Greenberg, the Congressman’s former friend and former Seminole County’s tax collector, who pleaded guilty of sex trafficking in the minor, falsely labeled a political enemy as a pedophile, and committed a variety of other crimes. In order to get a milder sentence, Greenberg is cooperating with federal authorities in their investigations against Gaetz. He is waiting to be sentenced.

No charges were brought against Gaetz, although investigators questioned many of his employees, including former girlfriends. The investigation seems to have slowed down when federal prosecutors negotiate with a former friend of Gaetz’s, who in return for any testimony she could give, wants an immunity agreement.

Gaetz, who described the investigation as a witch hunt in the “Deep State”, said the shakedown plan was evidence that the Justice Department’s investigation into him was politically motivated.

It’s unclear how, why, or if Alford thought he could get President Joe Biden to pardon Gaetz, a populist Republican lawmaker and prominent supporter of President Donald Trump. Alford reportedly said he had connections with individuals in the Justice Department who could facilitate Biden’s pardon for Gaetz.

In his April interview with CNN, Kent confirmed that he had sent Don Gaetz a text about the “ongoing federal investigation.” [into Matt Gaetz], and the indictment filed against your son. I have a plan that can solve his future legal and political problems. “

Kent told CNN that he had made similar offers to other people.

“We have worked with several people over the years. And everyone was in similar situations, ”said Kent. “I mean, many of them have faced charges or are all in search of the goodwill of the US government.”

Kent was unavailable for comment on Tuesday’s developments.

A new Pensacola grand jury indictment alleges that Alford’s $ 25 million claim eventually fell to $ 15.5 million. The amount should be paid into a law firm’s escrow account, the indictment said, without identifying the firm.

Alford had previously been convicted of federal fraud allegations and faced a state fraud case in 2015. Federal prosecutors said in a press release that he appeared in federal court on Tuesday on the new charges and is currently in custody of the U.S. Marshal Service.

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