Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), who lost Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial contest to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), was indicted on federal criminal charges earlier this year.
Gillum’s attorneys sought to have those charges dismissed for a variety of reasons but a federal judge this week rejected those motions and will allow the prosecution to continue, the Tampa Free Press reported.
The defense team had argued that Gillum was targeted by the Justice Department for political and racial reasons, but the judge ruled that the attorneys for the once-rising Democratic star had failed to provide sufficient evidence in support of those arguments for dismissal.
Charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, and making false statements
A DOJ news release in June announced the 21-count federal indictments against Gillum and a close associate, Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks.
It was alleged that the two defendants, between 2016-2019, had engaged in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud, had committed actual wire fraud, and had made false statements to federal investigators.
The charges were centered on allegations that Gillum and Lettman-Hicks had fraudulently and unlawfully solicited funds for his campaign that were instead funneled through third parties back to the defendants for their own personal use.
If convicted on all counts, the pair could face maximum sentences of 20 years each for the conspiracy and wire fraud charges plus five years for making false statements.
Claims of political and racial motivation
According to the Associated Press, those charges resulted from a federal investigation that began around five years ago and involved undercover FBI agents who posed as real estate developers and took part in the alleged conspiracy to provide funds to Gillum but disguise them so that they didn’t appear to be political donations.
Gillum had pleaded not guilty to the federal charges and denied any wrongdoing while also claiming that he had been selectively targeted for prosecution.
That led to the motions for dismissal from his defense attorneys which asserted that federal prosecutors had waited too long before filing the indictments and that the charges were politically and racially motivated against him because he is a black Democrat.
No evidence to support motions for dismissal
Unfortunately for Gillum, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor dismissed all four motions for dismissal as being “meritless.”
The judge ruled that Gillum had failed to show any evidence of “discriminatory effect,” and that even if he had shown such effect, he had also still failed to show any evidence of “discriminatory purpose” behind the charges.
“He would have to cite evidence showing that the government’s decision to prosecute him was ‘because of’ a protected characteristic. But he offers no evidence suggesting race- or political-affiliation-based prosecution,” Winsor wrote.
As for the alleged delays in filing charges, the judge noted that the statute of limitations had not yet expired. “Faded memory is a possibility inherent in any delay; it does not constitute actual prejudice sufficient to bar prosecution,” he wrote. “Second, even had he shown prejudice, Mr. Gillum has made no showing that the government delayed to gain a tactical advantage. He offers no reason to conclude that this was the purpose: he simply says it was.”