Fort Walton Beach man pleads guilty to a scheme to defraud millions from Gaetz family
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A Fort Walton Beach man pleaded guilty to a scheme to attempt to defraud the Gaetz family, a political powerhouse in Florida, out of $25 million in exchange for a presidential pardon.
Stephen M. Alford, 62, pled guilty Monday to one count of wire fraud related to his attempt to illegally obtain $25 million from Don Gaetz, a former president of the Florida Senate and the father of Rep. Matt Gaetz. The United States Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Florida said Alford tried to bribe the Gaetz family in exchange for a presidential pardon. This is while Rep. Gaetz is allegedly in the middle of a high-profile federal sex trafficking investigation.
According to a news release from the office of Jason R. Coody, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, the scheme involved a series of meetings and text message exchanges between Alford and the victim, as well as undercover recordings arranged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During the exchanges, Alford repeatedly promised the victim that Alford had access to the current President of the United States.
Alford faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment to be followed by a term of supervised release.
This case resulted from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys David L. Goldberg and Lazaro P. Fields are prosecuting this case.
Sentencing in this case is currently set for February 16, 2022, at 9:00 a.m., at the United States Courthouse in Pensacola before the Honorable United States District Judge M. Casey Rodgers.
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