A Florida man pled guilty Monday to a charge of wire fraud in connection to an alleged extortion scheme targeting the father of Congressman Matt Gaetz.
Stephen M. Alford, 62, of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud related to his attempt to illegally obtain $25 million from Don Gaetz, purportedly in exchange for securing a Presidential Pardon for Congressman Gaetz as he has been linked to an ongoing sex-trafficking investigation.
The plea was announced by Jason R. Coody, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
At his guilty plea, Alford admitted that, between March 16, and April 7, 2021, he engaged in a scheme to defraud the senior Gaetz out of $25 million based upon Alford’s false promises and guarantees to secure a Presidential Pardon for his son.
The scheme involved a series of meetings and text message exchanges between Alford and Gaetz, as well as undercover recordings arranged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During the exchanges, Alford repeatedly promised Gaetz that Alford had access to the then-current President of the United States, Donald Trump.
Sentencing in this case is currently set for February 2022. Alford faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment if convicted.
According to Northwest Florida Daily News, this “will mark the third time since March 2006 that Alford will face prison time for a felony involving an effort to swindle big money from wealthy individuals or entities.”