Florida man pleads guilty to $25 million extortion scheme against Rep. Gaetz (R-FL) using sex crimes allegations

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PENSACOLA, FL – Florida businessman Stephen Alford pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud after attempting to obtain $25 million from the family of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), federal prosecutors announced on Monday.

Alford, 62, was indicted by a federal grand jury in August on counts of wire fraud and the attempted prevention of seizure of an electronic device, according to Jason R. Coody, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

Alford pleaded guilty on Monday during a 2 p.m. hearing in Pensacola before U.S. Magistrate Elizabeth Timothy. He originally pleaded not guilty on October 1.

 He pleaded guilty to one of three counts of wire fraud. A charge of tampering with evidence was thrown out. That charge resulted from Alford destroying a cellphone before federal agents could confiscate it.

The Department of Justice issued a press release August 31 announcing the indictment:

“The indictment alleges that, between March 16, and April 7, 2021, Alford engaged in a scheme to defraud a victim out of $25 million.

“As articulated in the indictment, Alford is alleged to have been involved in a scheme to obtain money based upon false promises or guarantees he made to the victim that Alford could deliver a Presidential Pardon for a family member of the victim.”

The indictment never mentions the names of the victim or other alleged participants in the scheme. The indictment said that Alford was part of a scheme to get $25 million from a person identified only as “D.G.”

In exchange, Alford promised he could get a presidential pardon from then-President Donald Trump for a family member, as well as fund the release of someone identified only as “R.L.”

Investigators alleged Alford participated in an extortion scheme wherein Rep. Gaetz’s father, Don Gaetz, was asked if he would contribute $25 million to a fund that would help locate Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who was kidnapped in Iran and is now presumed dead.

If Don Gaetz cooperated, Alford promised a presidential pardon would be granted to his son, who is currently under investigation for sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl.

The investigation into Rep. Gaetz was made public in an article published by The New York Times, which cited three anonymous sources “briefed on the matter,” which alleges that the 38-year-old had a relationship with the girl and paid for her travel at one point.

Gaetz was attacked by Democrats after he denied the sex trafficking allegations. He told Fox News host Tucker Carlson in March:

“What is happening is an extortion of me and my family. (I received text messages) demanding a meeting wherein a person demanded $25 million in exchange for making horrible sex trafficking allegations against me go away.”

He continued:

“What was supposed to happen was the transfer of this money that would have implicated the former colleague of these current DOJ officials. But that’s obviously not going to happen tomorrow because (of the leak).”

Rep. Gaetz claimed his father was wearing a wire as part of an FBI investigation to “catch these criminals.” He called on the FBI to release recordings from the investigation, which he claimed would clear him of the allegations.

The congressman also claimed that California Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) used the unsubstantiated allegations to smear him:

“It is a horrible allegation, and it is a lie. The New York Times is running a story that I have traveled with a 17-year-old woman and that is verifiably false. People can look at my travel records and see that that is not the case. What is happening is an extortion of me and my family…”

Alford’s sentencing is set for Feb. 16 before District Judge M. Casey Rodgers. He is facing up to 20 years of prison followed by supervised release, according to the Justice Department.

This is not Alford’s first run in with the law.

In March 2006, Alford was convicted of multiple federal charges, including fraud, aiding and abetting, conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering, making an unlawful campaign contribution and bank fraud.

He was convicted in Okaloosa County in 2017 of criminal use of personal information and communications fraud. In the incident, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said:

“Alford approximately $350,000 from at least one investor by promising lucrative returns for money intended for real estate ventures.

“(He) “misrepresented real estate assets to the investor, and instead, used the money for personal use to include buying expensive jewelry, cars, and renting the luxury condominium at Destin Yacht Club, among other purchases.”

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Vindicated! Florida man indicted for trying to extort Rep. Matt Gaetz out of $25 million. Where’s the media now?

September 2, 2021

 

PENSACOLA, FL – According to reports, a 62-year-old man from Florida was indicted in August for allegedly attempting to extort the family of Rep. Matt Gaetz out of $25 million earlier in 2021 in exchange for a presidential pardon related to an ongoing investigation into alleged sex crimes committed by Rep. Gaetz.

The Justice Department announced the arrest of 62-year-old Stephen M. Alford on August 31st, noting that Alford was charged with wire fraud and the attempted prevention of seizure of an electronic device.

While the issued press release from the Justice Department never mentioned the names of the victim in the case, the following was written within the case synopsis:

“The indictment alleges that, between March 16, and April 7, 2021, Alford engaged in a scheme to defraud a victim out of $25 million.

As articulated in the indictment, Alford is alleged to have been involved in a scheme to obtain money based upon false promises or guarantees he made to the victim that Alford could deliver a Presidential Pardon for a family member of the victim.”

According to a report from CNN, while acknowledging that the Justice Department never mentioned the Gaetz family in their press release, sources for the outlet confirmed this indictment relates to the claims of extortion Rep. Gaetz has mentioned in months past.

Rep. Gaetz’s spokesman Harlan Hill also confirmed that the indictment against Alford stems from the allegations of extortion Rep. Gaetz said his family was subjected to in early 2021:

“Five months ago today, Rep. Gaetz asserted – after baseless allegations about him – that he was the victim of an extortion attempt. One of the men involved in that attempt, Stephen Alford, was today indicted.”

A copy of the indictment against Alford provides more context regarding the criminal allegations he’s facing, which notes:

“Steven M. Alford provided Person A with the cellular telephone number of D.G.in order for Person A to contact D.G.to discuss the purported release of R.L. from captivity in Iran and a purported ‘current federal investigation’ into Family Member A of D.G.”

“Person A sent a text message to D.G. requesting such a meeting. In the text message, it was conveyed to D.G. that Person A’s ‘partner will see to it that [Family Member A] receives a Presidential Pardon, thus alleviating all his legal issues.’”

The use of the initials “D.G.” as the person contacted and “R.L.” for the person needing rescue just so happens to coincide with the initials of Rep. Gaetz’s father Don Gaetz and FBI agent Robert Levinson – who in previous reports was noted as the person Don Gaetz was told the $25 million will be used to rescue from captivity abroad.

While this indictment does lend credence to claims Rep. Gaetz made about his family being extorted earlier in 2021, this does not mean he’s out of the woods regarding the active investigation into his alleged sex crimes and other potential offenses.

Rep. Gaetz is being investigated over allegations that he slept with a 17-year-old girl that was purportedly being sex trafficked.

There is also an active investigation into whether Rep. Gaetz obstructed justice during an alleged phone call where he spoke with a witness in the sex crimes investigation.

As of this writing, Rep. Gaetz has not been charged with any criminal offense.

 

 

 

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