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Florida man Stephen Alford, who was reportedly involved in a Gaetz family blackmail scheme, was charged with a $ 25 million program

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.

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A man allegedly at the center of an alleged blackmail scheme involving MP Matt Gaetz and his family has been charged with cheating on a victim out of $ 25 million, in part because he falsely promised a presidential pardon obtain.

A grand jury charged Stephen Alford, 62, from Florida with fraud related to the pardon plan, which was carried out 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 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.

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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 said that Alford had given “Person A” the phone number of “D.G.”. to "discuss the alleged release of R.L. from captivity in Iran and an alleged" ongoing federal investigation "against family member A of D.G."

In a text message, "D.G. was informed that the partner of person A will ensure that (family member A) receives a pardon from the president and thereby alleviate all of his legal problems," says the indictment.

Alford then wrote a letter, titled "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 the request for $ 25 million to "& # 39; fund RL's release" immediately, "the indictment reads.

In the letter, the money is said to have been deposited "into an escrow account of law firm A".

Alford's letter also falsely claimed that his "& # 39; team was assured by the President & # 39; that they are considering a & # 39; Presidential Pardon & # 39; & # 39; strongly & # 39;" or call on the Justice Department to stop any investigation into "Family Member A" if RL is released from captivity, the indictment states.

Alford said D.G. also falsely: "I assure you that (family member A) will solve his problems", claiming that he could "guarantee" that this family member "would not go to jail".

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