In Case That Hurt His Campaign, Gillum Not Mentioned in 44-Charge Indictment of Tallahassee Commissioner
By Mark Skoneki and Gray Rohrer
Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox was indicted Wednesday on 44 charges in an FBI corruption investigation that became a key issue in Democrat Andrew Gillum's campaign for Florida governor.
During a hearing, federal prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Charles Stampelos that the probe was ongoing.
Maddox confidant, Paige Carter-Smith, who allegedly helped him in an ongoing scheme to solicit bribes from companies seeking to do business with the city of Tallahassee, also was indicted. The charges included racketeering, bribery, extortion and bank and wire fraud. Gillum isn't mentioned in the indictment.
The 66-page indictment accuses Maddox and Carter-Smith of using two companies, Governance Incorporated and Gov. Services, to defraud banks in two short sale transactions and to solicit bribes from Uber and an unnamed construction company in exchange for his support on the City Commission.
Maddox, a former Tallahassee mayor and former head of the state Democratic Party, was arrested Wednesday morning.
Maddox and Carter-Smith pleaded not guilty to all charges. Both were released pending their trial, slated to begin Jan. 14, but were ordered to give up their passports and seek permission if they want to leave North Florida. Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order suspending Maddox from the commission.
Gillum was dogged throughout the campaign by his opponent Ron DeSantis about his ties to the investigation, which included trips with a lobbyist and meetings with undercover FBI agents.
The mysterious, three-year sting ensnared Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee from 2014 until last month, who narrowly lost the race for governor to DeSantis on Nov. 6.
Gillum said the FBI told him he was not a subject of the probe, but DeSantis and President Donald Trump repeatedly attacked him over it.
DeSantis declared him "Crooked Mayor Gillum" at one point, and in a tweet, the president declared that Gillum was a "thief."
The investigation unearthed details of Gillum's friendship with a lobbyist who set up meetings between him and the undercover agents, including on trips to New York City, Las Vegas and Costa Rica. Questions about who bought tickets for Gillum to the hit Broadway musical "Hamilton" also emerged.
Those revelations might have raised doubts about Gillum in the razor-thin election that was decided after a recount with DeSantis winning by 32,463 votes out of more than 8.1 million cast.
Just weeks before the election, documents from an ethics complaint related to the trips were released by a lawyer for Corey Stewart, a lobbyist who was Gillum's campaign treasurer during his mayoral run. The lawyer, Chris Kise, was recently named as a transition team adviser to DeSantis. The documents showed the "Hamilton" tickets were paid for by an undercover FBI agent.
According to the indictment, Maddox falsely told the city attorney and ethics commissioners under oath that he had cut all ties to Governance, his consulting company, when he ran for City Commission in 2012. In fact, he used money from the company for personal expenses, the indictment states.
When a construction company, referred to in the indictment as "Company A" fell behind on its monthly payments to Gov. Services, Maddox would tell their representatives to "show me some love" and catch up on the payments.
Gov. Services was an early donor to Gillum's political committee, giving $10,000 to Forward Florida in March 2017, shortly after Gillum announced his candidacy. The money was later refunded by the committee.
(c)2018 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)