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Judge delays trial for former 2018 Florida gubernatorial candidate

Al Diaz
Miami Herald

A trial that could determine whether former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is convicted of federal wire fraud and conspiracy charges has been delayed until April, according to an order issued by a federal judge on Thursday.

Pushing the trial back to April 17 from its initially scheduled August 16 date is “reasonable and appropriate” in the case, U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor wrote in the order.

“This takes into account the volume of discovery and the time defense counsel seeks for adequate preparation,” Winsor’s order said.

A one-time rising star in national Democratic politics, Gillum, who narrowly lost the 2018 governor’s race to Republican Ron DeSantis, was indicted in June on charges of wire fraud and making false statements to the FBI.

A 21-count indictment delivered by a grand jury earlier this year accused Gillum and Sharon Lettman-Hicks, a longtime adviser to the former mayor, of illegally soliciting and obtaining money from various entities “through false and fraudulent promises and representations that the funds would be used for a legitimate purpose.”

Gillum and Lettman-Hicks were charged with 19 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Gillum also was charged with one count of making false statements for allegedly lying to federal investigators in 2017.

The pair entered not guilty pleas in June. In a statement at the time of his June arrest, Gillum denied any wrongdoing and asserted that the charges against him are “political” in nature.

Rumors about Gillum’s involvement in a city of Tallahassee public-corruption probe began circulating in the months before the 2018 gubernatorial election, one of the nation’s most closely watched races that year.

The long-running Tallahassee public-corruption probe also snared Scott Maddox, a former Tallahassee mayor and former Florida Democratic Party chairman. Maddox pleaded guilty in 2019 and was sent to federal prison.

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