Gaetz Was Target of $25 Million Pardon Scheme, Prosecutors Say
(Bloomberg) -- Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida was the target of a scam in which he was promised a presidential pardon in exchange for the payment of as much as $25 million to help free an American who had been taken prisoner in Iran, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Stephen Alford was charged by federal prosecutors in Florida with wire fraud, and accused of trying to carry out the scheme in March and April, according to a Justice Department press release released Tuesday.
Alford told Don Gaetz, the congressman’s father and a former State Senate president, that his “team had been assured” that President Joe Biden would “strongly consider” a pardon or instruct the Justice Department to terminate any investigations of Matt Gaetz in return for paying to get the prisoner out of Iran, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday. That was one of several false promises he made, prosecutors say.
The indictment refers to Gaetz and his father as “Family Member A” and “D.G.,”respectively, but the person familiar with the case identified the two, while asking not to be identified because the information isn’t public.
The Justice Department is separately investigating whether Gaetz, a Republican and outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump, violated federal sex-trafficking laws through his connection with a former Florida tax collector, Joel Greenberg. In May, Greenberg pleaded guilty to sex-trafficking and wire fraud. He has received a delay to his sentencing because he is cooperating with prosecutors.
Gaetz has repeatedly denied ever paying for sex or having sex with a minor.
The indictment details how Alford later backed down on the price, saying he could “guarantee” no prison time for Matt Gaetz if he got $15.5 million for the prisoner’s release.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Florida didn’t immediately respond to an email and voice mail seeking comment outside of regular office hours.
There was no immediate response to a request for comment from Gaetz’ Washington office on Tuesday night.
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