Appearing shackled before a federal judge on Wednesday, former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum pleaded not guilty to all charges against him, including that he conspired to commit wire fraud between 2016 and 2019.
The 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee and his long-time campaign associate, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, appeared before Magistrate Judge Charles Stampelos hours after the office of Jason Coody, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced 20 charges against the pair, plus an additional charge against Gillum.
Gillum was released and must appear before Judge Allen Winsor the morning of Aug. 16.
Both defendants face up to 20 years for each charge for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Gillum also faces up to 5 years for making false statements to FBI agents. Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen M. Kunz and Andrew J. Grogan will prosecute the case, according to the Department of Justice.
As conditions of his release, Gillum must report to a probation officer and must get preapproval to leave the Northern District of Florida. He must maintain his current residence and is allowed to keep his job.
However, Gillum is not allowed to have contact with parties to the case, complicated by the fact that Gillum and Lettman-Hicks are work associates.
Gillum was represented by Todd Yoder, a lawyer with Miami-based criminal defense firm Markus/Moss.
Gillum had little to say during the initial court appearance and had no comment when he exited the courthouse.
Before prosecutors announced the indictment Wednesday morning, Gillum released a statement to the media denying the allegations and calling it political.
“I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people,” Gillum said. “Every campaign I’ve run has been done with integrity. Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political. Throughout my career I have always stood up for the people of Florida and have spoken truth to power. There’s been a target on my back ever since I was the mayor of Tallahassee. They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now.”
Prominent Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias and Markus/Moss founder David Oscar Markus also released a joint statement ahead of the indictment.
“The government got it wrong today. The evidence in this case is clear and will show that Mr. Gillum is innocent of all charges. We look forward to putting this case to rest and giving Andrew and his family peace of mind once and for all,” they said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis ultimately won the 2018 election by just over 32,000 votes out of more than 8 million cast as scandals loomed over Gillum. The victory came only after a machine recount of votes statewide.
Gray Rohrer and Renzo Downey contributed to this report.