A federal judge has sentenced Florida businessman Stephen M. Alford to more than five years in prison for his involvement in a 2021 scheme to defraud Rep. Matt Gaetz’s father of $25 million.
Drama has surrounded the Republican Representative Gaetz after investigations began in 2020 to look into whether he possibly violated sex trafficking laws, the New York Times reported.
Gaetz allegedly had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him.
The investigation into Gaetz started when his former “wingman,” the former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, pleaded guilty to six charges of sex trafficking, Orlando Weekly reported.
In light of the investigation, Alford reportedly promised the Gaetz family that if they paid him $25 million to help free a U.S. hostage in Iran, then President Joe Biden would pardon Gaetz in the ongoing child sex trafficking investigation, the Daily Beast reported.
After the scheme crumbled, Alford pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in November. On Monday he was sentenced to 63 months in prison.
Alford’s imprisonment will be followed by three years of supervised release, according to the Daily Beast’s reporting on the court documents.
The fraudulent scheme was publicized on March 30, 2021, on Fox News, by Gaetz himself, just hours after the New York Times initially reported on the investigation into Gaetz’s alleged sex crimes, the Washington Post reported.
Gaetz claimed on Fox that the story about the investigation was a “leak” to distract from the fraud scheme that Alford was involved in, aimed at him and his father, former Florida Senate president Don Gaetz.
According to court documents that the Washington Post reported on, Alford and another individual learned that the Department of Justice was investigating Gaetz before the investigation was made public by the Times.
The elder Gaetz reportedly received a text message on March 16, 2021, requesting a discussion about the investigation into his son, Alford’s indictment outlined, according to Washington Post.
The following day, Don Gaetz met with the individual and was given a letter outlining the plan.
“If the Gaetzes helped fund efforts to locate and rescue Robert A. Levinson — the longest-held American hostage in Iran — President Biden would ‘strongly consider’ pardoning Rep. Gaetz, if necessary, or otherwise direct the Justice Department to halt its investigation of the congressman, court records state,” the Post reported.
The plan was called “Project Homecoming.”
According to court documents, Alford then met with Don Gaetz and named the price of $25 million for the plan.
However, the plan fell through and Don Gaetz was interviewed by the FBI about his connection with Alford on March 20, 2021, the Post reported.
After that meeting with the FBI, Don Gaetz wore a recording device during his final meeting with Alford. The businessman’s promises were recorded.
When investigators asked Alford about his promises and statements, he said they were “a lie,” the Post reported.
That claim gave investigators grounds to charge Alford with “making material false promises,” the court documents outlined, according to the Post.
Finally, Alford admitted to FBI agents that he had never had any assurances from the Biden administration about a potential pardon for Matt Gaetz, Newsweek reported.
Alford’s new sentencing this week makes for the third time that Alford has been imprisoned since March 2006, on “charges related to attempts to extort large amounts of money from wealthy individuals or businesses,” according to Newsweek.
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