A man, whom Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz accused of being involved in a plot to extort his family out of $25 million, was indicted and arrested in connection to a scheme to defraud a victim to the tune of that amount, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
Stephen Alford, 62, was taken into custody Tuesday and faces counts of wire fraud and the attempted prevention of seizure of an electronic device to obtain the money from victim “D.G.,” according to court documents. The victim initials match those of Gaetz’s father, Don Gaetz.
Alford allegedly oversaw the scheme’s development between March 16 and April 7 and supplied someone identified as “Person A” with D.G.’s phone number to discuss the release of “R.L.” from captivity in Iran. Person A also broached the topic of a “current federal investigation” to a family member of D.G., according to the indictment returned by a federal grand jury, and promised to help secure a presidential pardon for the family member.
Alford was further responsible for drafting a letter titled “Project Homecoming” that raised the issue of the investigation, a presidential pardon, and the need for $25 million to be supplied to secure R.L.’s release, the indictment alleged.
The scheme outlined in the indictment tracks with one Matt Gaetz, who in late March confirmed reports he was under federal investigation in connection to a sex trafficking investigation but denied committing wrongdoing, had also alleged at the time.
Matt Gaetz shared documentation , including text message screenshots, an email, and a typed document with the Washington Examiner purporting to show former Air Force intelligence officer Bob Kent proposing to Don Gaetz “a plan that can make [Matt Gaetz’s] future legal and political problems go away.”
The documents also show a connection between that plan and an effort to get former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who went missing in Iran in 2007, released from prison. Levinson’s family said in March 2020 they presume he is dead.
Don Gaetz purportedly met with Kent on March 17, who gave him a letter titled “Project Homecoming,” which outlined a plan to save Levinson at the cost of $25 million and discussed the possibility of Matt Gaetz receiving a pardon or the benefit of being dropped from the investigation.
The documents provided by Matt Gaetz purported to show Alford was also at that March 17 meeting.
Kent later confirmed the authenticity of the documentation but denied it was an extortion plot.
“I never threatened the man. Matter of fact, it was the opposite. I told him if he decides not to help us, he’ll never hear from me again,” Kent said in an April 5 interview.
Alford made his first appearance in federal court Tuesday and is being held by the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida announced . He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
Matt Gaetz did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment but took to Twitter on Tuesday to address news of the indictment.
“Those he was working with to extort me on a pile of lies should be next,” he said .
Author : Jeremy Beaman
Source : Washington Examiner : Grand jury indicts man whom Matt Gaetz accused of being involved in extortion scheme against family