Former Tallahassee mayor asks federal judge to order separate trials for him, advisor

Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has named two South Florida attorneys to represent him...
Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has named two South Florida attorneys to represent him in his federal conspiracy and fraud case.(Jacob Varga - WCTV)
Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 4:05 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla (WCTV) - Former Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum asked a judge Monday to be tried separately from longtime friend, advisor and co-defendant Sharon Lettman-Hicks.

The request comes just days after Lettman-Hicks filed a similar request with the court.

Gillum and Hicks were indicted in June on charges of conspiracy and wire fraud. Federal prosecutors accuse them of soliciting and diverting campaign contributions from Gillum’s 2020 gubernatorial bid for their personal use.

Gillum’s motion to sever called Lettman-Hicks an “essential witness” in his case.

“Sharon Lettman-Hicks would be an essential, if not the most important, witness for Andrew Gillum at his trial. In sum, Sharon will explain that there was no agreement to defraud anyone and that Gillum had no reason to believe the subject payments were unlawfully or fraudulently made,” David Oscar Markus said in the motion filed Monday.

“The problem, however, is that this essential defense witness is unavailable at a joint trial because she will invoke her right to silence under the Fifth Amendment. Gillum, therefore, will not be able to call her as a witness. But if Sharon Lettman-Hicks is tried separately and before his trial, she will be available as a defense witness,” Markus said.

Markus contends Lettman-Hicks is the only one who can explain Gillum’s position, wages and access to accounts at P&P Communications, a public relations and consulting firm where she serves as President and CEO.

Defense attorneys for Sharon Lettman-Hicks filed a similar motion for separate trials on Friday, federal court records show.

It focuses on Gillum’s additional charge of making false statements to investigators about his dealings with an FBI-front company known as Southern Pines.

“Ms. Lettman-Hicks didn’t go on a boat ride with the gentlemen from Southern Pines. She did not attend a Broadway play with the gentlemen from Southern Pines. She did not go to New York City at the invitation of the gentlemen from Southern Pines. She didn’t receive free meals, drinks, or accommodations from the gentlemen from Southern Pines,” defense attorneys Robert Morris and Mutaqee Akbar argued.  “Ms. Lettman-Hicks had absolutely nothing to do with Southern Pines.”

They describe Lettman-Hicks as an “unfortunate casualty of the intended target, Andrew Gillum.”

In their request for a separate trial, Lettman-Hicks’ attorneys criticized the timing of her indictment,  pointing out it was “just 77 days” before the primary election in which she was running for the Florida House of Representatives and just 7 days before the five year statute of limitations was set to run out.

The judge has not yet ruled on either defendant’s request, court records show.