Looks like ‘Florida man’ has struck again and this time gets really bad news from the courts after a plot against a politician’s father. Stephen Alford, who was alleged to have contacted the father of the sunshine state’s district congressman Matt Gaetz, pleaded guilty in the $25 million extortion plot. The Florida real estate developer Stephen Alford pleaded guilty in a complex scheme that involved a pledge to secure a presidential pardon for the young Gaetz. Alford was alleged to have contacted Don Gaetz, the former state Florida Senate president and father of Matt Gaetz. The scheme included securing the release of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran in 2007. Former President Donald Trump’s administration had told Levinson’s family last year that U.S. intelligence believed Levinson died in captivity.
According to federal court documents, Alford, who is 62, was charged with wire fraud and attempting to prevent the seizure of an electronic device in 2021. U.S. District Court Judge M. Casey Rodgers sentenced him to 63 months plus three years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. According to Judge Rodgers, the Justice Department incorrectly attempted to set guidelines for sentencing for stealing $25 million, rather than attempting to steal $25 million, which would have Alford spend a minimum of 15 years in prison. Although defendants typically are sentenced far below the maximum, due to having prior federal convictions for fraud, Alford faces a stiff prison term, said Politico.
Alford approached Don Gaetz and allegedly said he had access to the president and could “guarantee” a presidential pardon for his son who, along with his associates, is the focus of an investigation into allegations they had sex with underage girls, and also paid women for sex using websites that cater to the so-called “sugar daddies.” After that, Don Gaetz went to the FBI. With the help of FBI agents, the congressman’s father was able to record meetings with Alford and his business partner, named “Person A”, and others involved in the scheme. Writing to Don Gaetz, Alford said “The team has been assured by the President that he will strongly consider such matters because he considers the release of Robert Levinson a matter of national urgency.” The question of how Alford had hoped to get a pardon from President Joe Biden for one of the most vocal supporters of former President Donald Trump was never clear.
Alford later told FBI agents that he lied to Don Gaetz about securing a presidential pardon, with the statement of facts submitted in connection with the guilty plea saying that “Alford’s fraudulent scheme was thus making materially false promises to obtain millions of dollars from DG, although Alford knew he could not ’guarantee’ a pardon for DG’s family member.” Before the plea hearing, Matt Gaetz went to Twitter to blame the Justice Department for not charging those who allegedly had worked with Alford on the scheme. “Alford wasn’t acting alone. DOJ is having him take the fall to protect their own,” said the congressman.
This marks the third time Alford has been sent to prison for attempting to extort money from wealthy individuals.
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