By Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — After five days of rocky deliberations, jurors on Thursday acquitted former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum on charges of lying to federal investigators but were unable to reach a verdict on conspiracy and fraud charges.
U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor declared a mistrial on charges that Gillum, a former Tallahassee mayor, and his political mentor, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, bilked political contributors out of money and illegally steered it to Gillum for his personal use.
Federal prosecutors told the judge they intend to pursue a second trial.
Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, an ebullient Gillum expressed “gratitude” for his legal team, his family and supporters and for “second chances.”
Gillum said he and his family have been “under attack on all sides” for the past seven years.
“They’ve quite literally tried to take everything from us. And the beauty is that in our system, the powers that be don’t always get to decide,” said Gillum, accompanied by his wife R. Jai. “Everyday people like you and me sometimes get our swing at the ball and today the jury took it.”
Gillum, 43, sprinted into the national spotlight after winning the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2018. Gov. Ron DeSantis defeated Gillum by less than 33,000 votes in the general election.
The charges against Gillum and Lettman-Hicks are related to activities between 2016 and 2019, as Gillum’s political stature blossomed. Gillum and Lettman-Hicks were accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and committing wire fraud. Gillum also was charged with making false statements to federal investigators about his dealings with undercover agents who posed as developers during his time as mayor.
Gillum has steadfastly maintained his innocence and asserted that he was the victim of a political witch hunt, in part because he is Black.
“I just got to believe that, through this all, maybe one of the things that needed to be revealed to me is that this system is in desperate need of reform. And I’ll just say, ‘to be continued,’” he said Thursday.
As the not-guilty verdict was announced in a crowded courtroom shortly after 3 p.m., Gillum wiped away tears. His wife, seated a few feet behind him, silently wept. She and other family members tearfully clung to each other as a courtroom deputy announced “no verdict reached” on each of the 17 other charges involving conspiracy to commit wire fraud and committing wire fraud. Thursday also was R. Jai Gillum’s birthday.
A similar scene unfolded among Lettman-Hicks’ family members and allies as they heard “no verdict reached” on the 17 charges against her.
“Thank God Andrew Gillum is not guilty. And the rest, you know, is just theater,” Lettman-Hicks told reporters.
Attorney Mutaqee Akbar, who represents Lettman-Hicks, said his client was a victim of the effort to nail Gillum.
“The whole thing was based on these false ideas that Andrew Gillum was crooked,” Akbar told reporters.
Akbar said prosecutors should drop the case because they failed to prove that either defendant had done anything wrong.
“And it was politically charged. I think we can’t hide from the fact it was politically charged, and Ms. Lettman-Hicks got caught up in this whole thing,” he said.
It was clear in recent days that jurors were struggling to reach a verdict. They sent a note Tuesday to Winsor saying they had reached agreement on the false-statements charge but were unable to come to a unanimous decision on at least one other charge.
Turmoil continued Wednesday when it was disclosed that a juror had posted information about the trial on social media.
On Thursday morning, a juror handed a message to a courthouse security officer saying she wanted to speak privately to the judge but did not elaborate on her reasons. Before Winsor responded to the message, the jury sent another note to the judge reiterating it was unable to reach unanimity about other charges.
“The situation’s complicated,” Winsor said.
The jury’s inability to settle on a unanimous verdict prompted Winsor to send jurors what is known as an “Allen charge” — also called a “dynamite charge” — urging them to reach consensus on all the charges.
But attorney David Markus, who represents Gillum, opposed the move, arguing that the jury was at an impasse.
Markus noted that jurors had sent Winsor a number of questions since Friday and on Wednesday requested and received hard copies of exhibits, along with colored markers and paper clips. Thursday’s note was the “second time” jurors informed Winsor they were deadlocked, Markus argued.
“It’s not like they’ve been sitting around. They have been trying very hard and very diligently. This is now day five of deliberations,” said Markus, who several times asked Winsor to declare a mistrial on all charges.
After Gillum’s acquittal, Markus called the jury “one of the most conscientious” he had ever encountered.
The charges against Gillum came after a lengthy FBI public-corruption probe that also snared Scott Maddox, a former Tallahassee city commissioner and former Florida Democratic Party chairman. Maddox pleaded guilty in 2019 and is serving time in federal prison.
During opening arguments April 18 in the Gillum case, Gary Milligan, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Florida, outlined a complicated series of transactions involving contributions from a handful of non-profit organizations to P&P Communications, a company controlled by Lettman-Hicks.
The prosecutor repeatedly accused Gillum of “attempting to distance himself” from the alleged wrongdoing.
“He wants something to happen but doesn’t want to take responsibility for it and he’s separating himself from it,” Milligan argued.
Prosecutors spent a week detailing the false-statement allegations against Gillum, playing tapes of conversations between him and undercover investigators and showing emails between the men.
But in her opening remarks, Gillum attorney A. Margot Moss relied on the same remarks used by Milligan to try to show her client’s innocence.
“I need you in your mind’s eye (to) dissociate that. It’s a requirement that you do,” Gillum told an investigator after one conversation.
“Andrew Gillum refused to take a bribe,” Moss argued, pointing out that Gillum told the undercover investigator that “the one has nothing to do with the other.”
Outside the courthouse Thursday, Gillum thanked the jury for having “persevered” through the complex case.
“They showed up, they did their jobs, up to the point where they realized that it was becoming increasingly challenging to try to square the zig-zag lines that had been drawn for them that they needed to make some sense of,” he said.
@ DeepStatePropagandist… so, the one-off settled it for you… got it. Hey, interested in a bridge?
In the time it took you to attempt your deflection from the Democratic Party’s failures – and you failed at that – Biden has plummeted in the polls. Trump and DeSantis are polling above Biden. Wouldn’t want to be you.
@Edward Lyle –
The ‘cyber ninjas’ (a now bankrupt company with zero cybersecurity or forensics expertise) audit actually found more votes for Biden, and fewer votes for Trump!
Reuters 9.27.21 –
“Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, the Republican who paved the way for the so-called “full forensic audit” of 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County, said the review’s overall vote tally matched the initial results in November.
“Truth is truth, numbers are numbers,” Fann said at a Senate hearing on the review, which found only small variations, yielding 99 additional votes for Biden and 261 fewer votes for Trump. “Those numbers were close, within a few hundred.”
“Outside groups tied to the “Stop the Steal” movement and other efforts to cast doubt on the 2020 results raised nearly all of the $6 million to fund the inquiry, viewing it as a catalyst for similar investigations in Pennsylvania, Michigan and other battleground states that Trump lost.”
“The audit was marked by practices that critics described as ranging from inappropriate to bizarre, including counters marking ballots with blue ink, which can alter how they are read by machines, and workers checking for traces of bamboo fibers based on a conspiracy theory that forged ballots may have been shipped in from Asia.”
This is what happens when Rudy Giuliani is the smartest guy in your strategy room. Did the AZ Republican Senate President fold to deep state pressure when accepted that the entire thing had been a boondoggle and Biden had won AZ?
Aren’t you exhausted from thinking that everyone is always out to get you, not to mention, seemingly always able to out maneuver you? We didn’t fail to get to litigation 60 times because we were wrong and laughed out of court, no it was the deep state! The problem is the ideas behind the stolen election were always lies told to gullible people.
~ August 4, 2021 The Biden U.S. Department of Justice is now telling states that they should not pursue their own Arizona-style election audits. The DOJ’s new guidance document claims that undertaking “partisan” election audits could violate federal law, which seems like a clear statement directed at Republicans who support audits in states. “The guidance document explicitly warns against audits in which election officials are forced to turn over materials like ballots or voting machines to state lawmakers or third parties — as in Arizona, whose audit is being run by the private company Cyber Ninjas,” Forbes reported. “There are federal or criminal penalties attached,” the guidance asserts. Biden’s DOJ then suggests that those who carry out audits of the 2020 election “can face fines of up to $1,000 and imprisonment of up to one year for each violation.”
@Edward Lyle –
“And since the alt-left activists in robes would not let any of the cases into a courtroom to be heard… well, you know this so I won’t bother telling you something you already – but begrudgingly – understand.”
So, Rudy and pals *just happened* to walk into 60 ‘alt-left’ judges? What a crazy coincidence! I knew it couldn’t be that their ‘evidence’ was so ridiculous that they got laughed out of court! The next time I get fired from sixty jobs I’ll be sure to remember that it surely doesn’t have anything to do with me.
It’s seriously stupefying the amount of doublethink that would enable you to think they got 60 ‘bad judges’, in a row, as opposed to considering the possibility that they ‘had awful or non existent evidence’. Look, if you don’t believe me, believe Tucker Carlson, who has now had a ton of messages exposed wherein he told people *in private* that their stories weren’t worth anything.
“Like I’ve always said; our government is no different than any other corrupt and treasonous 3rd world government… we just wear nicer suits.”
You should travel more.
@ DeepStatePropagandist… technically, one cannot go 0-60 unless their cases are actually litigated and ruled uoponin a court of law. And since the alt-left activists in robes would not let any of the cases into a courtroom to be heard… well, you know this so I won’t bother telling you something you already – but begrudgingly – understand.
No member of the DC R&D corrupt establishment wanted a real investigation into the countless illegal election process changes and manipulations et al… that occurred in 2020, much less the thousands of sworn testimonies of the aforementioned. Like I’ve always said; our government is no different than any other corrupt and treasonous 3rd world government… we just wear nicer suits.
Socratus AKA Gillum
In one comment you are Socrates and in the other you are Socratus.
You pleaded to the Hamilton ticket on New York trip where you tried to blame it on your brother and paid a $500 fine to the Ethics Commission. Now you are trying to take it back?
It is illegal to use campaign contributions for personal use. If it was from 1,000 campaign contributions or 1 billionaire it makes no difference it is still illegal.
Just because you got a jury that ate Fruit Loops every morning before they came to trial with – the exception of a few – don’t celebrate yet, Pride cometh before the fall.”
@Nicholas Weed –
“I wouldn’t celebrate just yet”… I’m not celebrating anything. Gillum is not my hero. Neither Ron DePutin. I’m not a die-hard fan of “R” or “D”. I prefer to think of myself as “I” who needs to be convinced by the facts and not just by a blind extreme-left or extreme-right belief. Indeed, the situation is serious. When FBI brings 19 charges and is not able to convince 10 out of 12 jurors (and, most importantly for me, me myself) in a single one of them than something somewhere is seriously wrong.
You spew pure deflection from the real issues of Biden’s treason, Hunter’s treason, the wokeism, the insecure National Security, the downtrodden economy, supply chain issues, rampant crime that is unable to be controlled, corruption in the Biden family, the treason that has turned into war crimes against humanity, encouraging children to receive diabolical surgeries, high interest rates, banks failing, allowing China spies to infiltrate and cause great harm to our country and it goes on and on. What you spew is just fluff and permeates the air for only seconds before it dissipates as quickly as it is forgotten. A brain transplant cannot come soon enough for you.
@Nicholas Weed –
“You have a “meatball” for a brain I hope you sign yourself up on a donor list to receive a new one.”
Well, that’s why I’m here, hoping that some of your patriots that are smarter than me can explain how on Earth Team Trump went 0-60 in election related lawsuits! Otherwise, my entire identity as a TRUE PATRIOT is just built on a pile of lies told by a New York grifter who has a solid gold toilet. It just doesn’t make any sense to a dummy like me, but I know this is the place where the height of conservative thought congregates, so there must be an answer here somewhere.
You have a “meatball” for a brain I hope you sign yourself up on a donor list to receive a new one.
Gillum and his co-conspirator are still facing charges that they were not acquitted of and could face over 300 years in prison if found guilty. I don’t think you realize the seriousness of the situation and wouldn’t celebrate just yet.
@Edward Lyle –
“your boy George is knee deep in efforts to destroy our Republic. He should be tried for sedition and war crimes. As for your friends at Dominion, they convinced a liberal judge to protect their system data from scrutiny on the grounds of proprietorship… ergo, the other side was prohibited from access to their system algorithms needed to prove the corruption… ergo, they settled to stop the bleeding. Economic extortion is one of the Marxicrat ways of avoiding accountability… try to keep up, slick.”
This is what I’ve been saying *all along* though! The real reason that the Kraken legal team of Giuliani and Powel went 0-60 in election lawsuits had nothing to do with their utter incompetence or ‘facts’, but because literally everyone else was conniving to stop THE TRUTH from getting out. Literally everyone except dude who held a press conference at a garden supply store was on the take from Soros with Comey tweaking the powers of the FBI when necessary ergo the deep state has actually been in control, ergo transvestites are the *REAL DANGER* to our society. It is just so frustrating that no one else sees it!
@Nicholas Weed –
“The FOX/Murdoch/Dominion case was a farce where they were all in collusion with each other to protect Dominion from being discovered for election fraud. It’s called election interference. It’s pretty bad when you’re duped by your own side. Sucker.”
What’s so crazy about the collusion (not illegal, according to Trump!), is that how widespread it is! That’s why Giuliani went 0-60 in election lawsuits! What confuses me the most is how the genius members of Trump’s legal team weren’t able to at least go 1-59 or maybe even 2-58 in legal challenges when they had THE TRUTH on their side. (?!?!?!?) After all, we know Trump only hires the best people, so how come his Kraken legal team was out maneuvered by the Soros team? And Trump’s a billionaire just like Soros, so why can’t he just spend his billions to make America great again?
@ Socratus Ever heard of Marion Barry?
I was sure at the start of the trial that Gillum was guilty. After following the testimonies to the end, it now looks to me as a failed FBI attempt to set him up. They spent loads of money on this sting operation, and what was their catch? A Broadway ticket and a boat ride? If you go on a trip with your brother and your dear old friend, do you really keep a ledger who is paying for what? And when an undercover FBI agent testified that Gillum had stopped the conversation with him after agent’s first words about doing a favor, and never saw this “developer” again? That was the end of “Broadway” charge for me.
Stealing campaign money sounded more serious to me. Until I learned that all these “stolen” money came just from one Florida billionaire. Who was perfectly aware that he paid Gillum to promote certain political issues. Have you ever saw a victim of a real stealing who was aware and quite happy with a work of a “thief”? Have you seen stolen money openly reported on a tax return? Even bribery would be hard to prove when there is no direct financial benefit to a giver. But stealing when there was no act of stealing?
Gillum has no political future after his Miami drug escapade. However, FBI’s attempt to prove his corruption has failed spectacularly.
Why is anyone surprised? He is still guilty of the freak show party in Miami at a so called wedding, in a room with another guy doing drugs. Ha Ha. Thank goodness he lost for Governor can you even imagine the state Florida would be in now?
Duped State Ridiculousness
The FOX/Murdoch/Dominion case was a farce where they were all in collusion with each other to protect Dominion from being discovered for election fraud. It’s called election interference. It’s pretty bad when you’re duped by your own side. Sucker.
Dear Dumbass Feds:
Get a Change of Venue next time around.
Pensacola, preferably, but Jacksonville might work.
Or Panama City, if it opens back up.
You can thank me later.
@ DeepStatePropagandist… your boy George is knee deep in efforts to destroy our Republic. He should be tried for sedition and war crimes. As for your friends at Dominion, they convinced a liberal judge to protect their system data from scrutiny on the grounds of proprietorship… ergo, the other side was prohibited from access to their system algorithms needed to prove the corruption… ergo, they settled to stop the bleeding. Economic extortion is one of the Marxicrat ways of avoiding accountability… try to keep up, slick.
Lay off the weed and CNN… you’ll thank me later.
Told you he’d walk… Marxicrats are never held accountable for their criminal or treasonous acts.
Gillum will never be convicted in Tallahassee. Don’t the Feds know this?
I have never had any faith in a Leon county jury. And I still don’t.
If nothing else, he has had to spend all the money he and R Jai were going to embezzle from his campaign, on lawyers. Does this mean Sharon can ditch the wheel chair now?
They need to find Jurors that can follow Paper Trails.
@Nicholas Weed –
What are you talking about? Soros and Comey clearly are responsible for this. I’m pretty sure Fauci has a hand it it also.
Hey, did you see that our illustrious legislators are passing a bill to make Meatball Ron’s travel records, including who paid for them, secret, and void from Florida Sunshine Laws? It makes perfect sense, knowing who financed his jaunt to Israel is something only a woke leftist would be interested in.
Not today, thanks.
Its quite likely this trial went exactly according to the corrupt FBI’s plan. As far as the jury members were concerned basic right and wrong concepts would account for why the jury let Gillum off on the lying to the FBI charge.
It basically just stinks when a law enforcement agency spends money on you and your pals, then later, an undercover member of the same law enforcement agency asks how you paid for those items.
Gillum likely did not know it was the corrupt FBI asking him and thus he just thought it was a nosey member of the general public asking a question which was none of that person’s business. So the trial ended as the corrupt FBI had planed with Gillum walking freely out of the court room.
Now, still totally in the Corrupt FBI’s plan we come to the “We will retry Gillum later on the financial stuff” statement.
Yeah right. For anyone reading this: Please dont hold your breath for that to happen because you will pass away from lack of oxygen.
This trial ended exactly how the FBI planned and if you think there will be a follow up trial on the financial issues…..well I just feel sorry for your ability to be led to a false conclusion when logic tells the rational thinking person “It’s all over for Gillum”.
There may or may not be some lame excuse offered up at some future time on why there will be no financial trial but it’s over.
I just knew George Soros and Dominion would meddle in this trial.
Having personally served on a number of juries, locally, I can attest to the insane ignorance and overt racial bias in one direction of jurors these days. And I’m Hispanic. On a national level all you have to do is look at the Washington D.C. show trials of the J6ers and their convictions. To say I am not surprised by this outcome is an understatement.
I agree with Weed’s assessment, it does appear some jurors dug their heels in so good on them. Sadly, I suspect this was always going to be a show trial leading to full acquittal on all charges or the Prosecutor dropping further attempts at a re-trial. Just look at how much time has gone by for this nonsense to be resolved. Remember, the FBI along with our federal judiciary is wholly corrupt from the top down so maybe the order was given to just go through the motions and ensure this criminal politician is let off because he checks off all the right woke points.
Labeling Gillum as “innocent” is a PR stunt. With no verdict, he’s declared neither guilty nor innocent.
We don’t know what happened in the deliberations, but from everything I’ve read there’s very clear paper trail that shows the transfer of money from campaign cash to personal use. Unless Gillum’s friends, family, neighbors, or pastor were on the jury I don’t know how anyone can fail to convict.
Mr Gillum does have a gift of speaking. He is eloquent and witty and can think fast on his feet. I believe that is his gift and it is a good one. Perhaps in the future he will use this gift in a good way as it could be helpful to a lot of people.
But, he also needs to learn that this gift so far has enabled him to get out of situations where he should have been held accountable and he needs to set boundaries on using this gift. Unless he does it will always catch up to him.
The jury unable to come to a verdict on the more serious charges is certainly not an indication either way as to their guilt or innocence. They are (mis)reading it as innocent.
It appears some jurors compromised on this one charge but dug in their heels and would not on the others. Obviously there is something there.