A man who Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said tried to extort him out of $25 million through family members over child trafficking accusations was indicted and arrested on Tuesday for wire fraud and other charges, the Washington Examiner reports.
Stephen Alford, 62, was arrested on Tuesday for attempting to defraud a victim, D.G., which corresponds to Don Gaetz, the father of Matt Gaetz.
Gaetz confirmed that he was under investigation for child trafficking in March, but denied wrongdoing. Around that time, he mentioned an extortion scheme against his family and said that his father had worn a wire to get evidence against the extortioners.
According to court documents, the extortion plot involved an attempt to get a former FBI agent out of Iran, where he went missing in 2007. The agent, identified as Robert Levinson, is assumed dead by his family members.
Alford orchestrated the scheme, and former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer Bob Kent approached Don Gaetz to offer “a plan that can make [Matt Gaetz’s] future legal and political problems go away” in exchange for $25 million that would be spent to rescue Levinson.
Alford faces 25 years in prison if convicted of the charges brought against him.
Gaetz tweeted about the indictment, saying he has “been proven right.”
.@dcexaminer ran this story when other outlets refused.
I’ve been proven right.
They tried to extort me on a pile of lies.
Alford wasn’t acting alone – he had help from people with strong ties to the federal government.
There is much more to this attempt to destroy me. https://t.co/sEwDPdrTSK
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) August 31, 2021
The story is so bizarre that most media outlets didn’t even cover it when Matt Gaetz made his accusations, ostensibly assuming he was making it up to try to get out from under the investigation he faced at the time.
But in this case, it seems that truth is stranger than fiction, and it appears as if Gaetz’s story is more credible than it seemed earlier this year.
In June, the federal probe expanded to potential obstruction of justice charges, but Gaetz continued to vehemently deny any wrongdoing.
“The anonymous allegations have thus far amounted to lies, wrapped in leaks, rooted in an extortion plot by a former DOJ official,” Gaetz said. “The anonymous allegations have thus far amounted to lies, wrapped in leaks, rooted in an extortion plot by a former DOJ official.”