Alleged mastermind behind Gaetz family extortion attempt indicted

Stephen M. Alford, 62, of Fort Walton Beach was indicted by a federal grand jury on counts of wire fraud and the attempted prevention of seizure of an electronic device, announced Jason R. Coody, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. Alford was arrested on Aug. 31 and made his initial appearance in federal court to face the charges.

The official press release doesn’t identify the Gaetz family but the evidence presented matches Alford’s attempt to get Don Gaetz, father of Rep. Matt Gaetz, to pay $25 million in exchange for a pardon for his son.

The indictment alleges that, between March 16, and April 7,  Alford engaged in a scheme to defraud a victim (assumed to be former Florida Senate President Don Gaetz) out of $25 million. As articulated in the indictment, Alford is alleged to have been involved in a scheme to obtain money based upon false promises or guarantees he made to the victim that Alford could deliver a Presidential Pardon for a family member of the victim (Matt Gaetz).

The scheme was called “Project Homecoming” by Alford.

Alford is currently being held in the custody of the United States Marshals Service.  Alford faces up to 25 years imprisonment on the charged crimes.

An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David L. Goldberg and Lazaro P. Fields.

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