Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) leaves the committee room during a hearing with the House of Representatives Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies and Information Systems at the Rayburn House Office Building on May 14, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Anna Money Maker | Getty Images
A man reportedly at the center of an alleged blackmail plot involving MP Matt Gaetz and his family was charged with cheating on a victim out of $ 25 million, in part through a false promise to receive a presidential pardon .
A grand jury charged Stephen Alford, 62, from Florida with wire fraud related to the pardon plan, which ran between March 16 and April 7, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Alford was also charged with attempting to stop the government’s seizure of his iPhone, the grand jury indictment, signed by a U.S. judge on Aug. 18, reads.
Alford was arrested the previous Tuesday and appeared for the first time in federal court, the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida said in a press release. According to the public prosecutor’s office, he faces up to 25 years imprisonment for the criminal offenses.
Read more about CNBC’s political coverage:
Gaetz, R-Fla., A staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, is under investigation by the Justice Department into whether the 39-year-old congressman had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, The New York Times reported in March.
At the time of this report’s publication, Gaetz had linked this DOJ investigation to the alleged $ 25 million program of “organized criminal blackmail” against him and his father, Don Gaetz.
Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing. He was not charged with any crime.
In a Times report dated Jan.
They reportedly told Don Gaetz, 73, that securing this hostage, Robert Levinson, could help secure a pardon for his son if he is charged with federal crimes.
Don Gaetz then hired a lawyer and contacted the FBI, the Times reported. Kent denied the allegations.
The grand jury’s indictment did not refer to Matt Gaetz, Don Gaetz, Levinson, or Kent by full name.
Instead, it was reported that Alford had given “Person A” the phone number of “DG” to “discuss the alleged release of RL from captivity in Iran and an alleged” ongoing federal investigation “against family member A of DG”.
In an SMS the DG was informed that Person A’s partner would ensure that [Family Member A] receives a pardon from the president, easing all of his legal problems, “the indictment said.
Alford then wrote a letter, entitled “Project Homecoming,” alleging “an ‘FBI investigation into various public corruption and integrity issues’ relating to Family Member A”, as well as a “Presidential Pardon” and request for 25 million US dollars to “fund RL’s immediate release,” the indictment said.
In the letter, the money is said to have been deposited “into an escrow account of law firm A”.
Alford’s letter also falsely alleged that his “‘team have been assured by the President that they will’ strongly consider ‘” a’ Presidential Pardon ‘”or that the Department of Justice will stop any investigation into” Family Member A “if RL is released from captivity, it says in the indictment.
Alford also mistakenly told DG, “I can assure you that [Family Member A] will get rid of his problems “claiming he could” guarantee “that this family member” would not go to jail “.