Gillum conspiracy, fraud trial enters second week

Week two of testimony in Gillum trial
Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 6:03 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Testimony in Andrew Gillum’s federal corruption trial is now entering its second week.

The former Tallahassee Mayor and Florida Gubernatorial candidate - who narrowly lost the 2018 election to Ron DeSantis - is facing conspiracy and fraud charges alongside his campaign advisor Sharon Lettman-Hicks. Gillum also faces an additional charge of lying to the FBI.

More than a dozen witnesses have already been called to testify, including two undercover FBI agents, who posed as developers and potential campaign donors, and attorneys have presented secretly-recorded conversations with Gillum and his associates.

Monday, Mike Alfano spent hours on the stand. Alfano headed up Gillum’s “Campaign to Defend Local Solutions,” which focused on pre-emption issues and is referred to as CDLS in the 19-count indictment.

The bulk of Alfano’s testimony focused on his interactions with Sharon Lettman-Hicks. He described her as having an “intense personality” and described working with her as “challenging at times.”

Alfano testified he was paid about $50,000 for his work on CDLS, with paychecks in the $1,600 to $1,700 per month range.

Prosecutors asked him about Lettman-Hicks’ payroll journal which showed him earning $5,000 a month.

”Did you ever recall getting paid that much per paycheck?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Milligan asked.

“No,” Alfano said.

Prosecutors also asked him about an email in which Lettman-Hicks told Alfano she was freezing $50,000 in CDLS funds after consulting with “MAG”, which he said was short for Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Lettman-Hicks told him in the email it was “to protect the campaign.”

”Were you concerned after this?” Milligan asked.

“Yes,” Alfano said.

Alfano testified that he texted Gillum to ask him about it directly, but to his surprise, Gillum texted back, “I was not aware. Will check.”

Prosecutors also questioned Alfano extensively about a final report which outlined the expenditures of a $100,000 grant from the Open Society Foundation.

Alfano testified he submitted the report totaling just over $151,000 to Lettman-Hicks for her approval.

Alfano testified Lettman-Hicks made some changes to the report, increasing his salary and the cost of overhead, and ultimately submitted a report with expenditures of just over $171,000.

Defense attorneys began questioning Alfano just before lunch break and resumed cross-examination Monday afternoon, with Alfano ultimately spending nearly four hours on the stand.

Lettman-Hicks’ attorney showed the jury a copy of Alfano’s initial report to the OSF in which two sections were left blank. Alfano confirmed he left the sections on overhead and taxes related to his salary empty for Lettman-Hicks to fill in.

“Her projections were pretty on point looking back on it?” defense attorney Mutaqee Akbar asked.

“Yeah,” Alfano said.

A senior analyst with Verizon was the first person on the stand Monday and Harris Parnell, an advisor to South Florida billionaire Donald Sussman was next.

Parnell testified about Sussman’s $250,000 contribution to the campaign through the Opportunity to Learn Action Fund.

”I have to trust that when people say it’s going to go to the thing, it’s going to the thing,” Parnell said of the contribution.

Parnell said under cross-examination that she never met or communicated with Sharon Lettman-Hicks directly and didn’t know who she was until she was subpoenaed in this case.

Gillum’s attorney also asked if candidates are frequently involved in the “weeds and inner workings” of wire transfers.

“No,” Parnell said.

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