PENSACOLA — Niceville resident Stephen Alford will serve 63 months, or just over five years, in federal prison for attempting to extort $25 million from Don Gaetz, former state senate chairman and father of Florida’s first district congressman, Matt Gaetz.
The sentencing followed an afternoon hearing and came after District Court Judge Casey Rodgers ruled last week that the government had wrongly attempted to establish sentencing guidelines for theft of 25 million dollars, rather than trying to steal $25 million.
“Intentional loss does not fall within the bounds of a reasonable interpretation of the term loss,” Rodgers wrote. “Alford’s objection to the use of intentional loss to determine his level of offense under the (sentencing guidelines) stands.”
If the prosecution’s effort to convict Alford under his presumption of intentional loss, he faces a minimum sentence of 11 years and a maximum sentence of 14 years.
Alford will receive credit for time served and will be placed on three years probation at the end of his term.
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Alford is sent to prison for the third time since March 2006 on charges related to his efforts to defraud large sums of money from wealthy individuals or entities.
The plan to extort money from the Gaetz family, set out in documents filed with the United States District Court, involved Alford and others coming to them with a convoluted scheme.
Alford and his team said they could stop Matt Gaetz from going to jail for any role he may have played in the crimes he is under investigation, including the sex trafficking of a woman. 17 year old girl. In return, multi-millionaire Don Gaetz would present $25 million which would be used to free a man held for years by Iranian government agents.
The plan came to light in March 2021 when the FBI initially questioned Don Gaetz about his contact with Alford and another person identified only as “Person A”.
Don Gaetz told investigators he received a text message four days before the interview from Person A requesting a meeting to discuss “the ongoing investigation and the indictment that is about to take place.” to be filed against (Matt Gaetz)”.
At the time, news was just beginning to leak that Matt Gaetz was under criminal investigation. No criminal charges have been filed and Matt Gaetz maintains his innocence.
Joel Greenberg, the former Seminole County tax collector and associate of Matt Gaetz, allegedly implicated Gaetz in the sex trafficking case. Greenberg pleaded guilty in May 2021 to numerous crimes under a plea deal and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. One of the charges brought by Greenberg was that of sex trafficking the same 17-year-old girl to whom Gaetz was allegedly linked.
“I have a plan that can make his future legal and political problems go away,” the document reads, citing the text message Don Gaetz received. “Last summer, we located Robert Levinson in Iran and took two proof-of-life videos, but the US government foiled our rescue attempts.”
Levinson is a CIA agent who disappeared in 2007 and is believed by most to be deceased. Alford told Don Gaetz that if he could give him a $25 million loan, he and his team could secure Levinson’s release and make Matt Gaetz a hero by doing so.
In the original text, the unidentified person told Don Gaetz that there was still a chance to save Levinson and “If you and (Matt Gaetz) are willing to help us privately and covertly secure the release of Robert Levinson, I I’ll make sure (Matt Gaetz) is on the plane that delivers Levinson to his family, making him the most wanted public figure in the world.”
Also in exchange for the loan – which the would-be extortionist said was repaid from a reward offered for the safe return of Robert Levinson – Alford promised he could secure a pardon from President Joe Biden for Matt Gaetz.
“The team delivering Mr. Levinson to the President of the United States will strongly advocate for President Biden to grant a presidential pardon or direct the Department of Justice to end all investigations involving (Matt Gaetz),” the officials said. charging documents, citing Alford. “The team has been assured by the President that he will seriously consider these matters as he views the release of Robert Levinson as a matter of national emergency.”
Alford even told Gaetz that he could convince Levinson himself to advocate for Matt Gaetz.
Twists:Stephen Alford Says He Was Questioned By FBI Regarding Matt Gaetz Extortion Charge
Confronted by FBI agents regarding his discussion with the elder Gaetz, who was captured on a thread brought to the meeting between the two, Alford admitted he never received any assurances from the Biden administration regarding a thanks for Matt Gaetz.
“Alford responded that this statement was a lie,” the court document states. “Alford’s fraudulent scheme therefore made materially false promises to obtain millions of dollars from Don Gaetz although Alford knew he could not guarantee a pardon for (Matt Gaetz),” the document states.
A look at Stephen Alford’s record
Alford has a long and colorful history as a high-stakes crook.
In July 2005, he and attorney David Fleet were arrested on federal charges stemming from their efforts to negotiate a massive land swap involving the United States Air Force and a logging company in rural Taylor County.
Alford and Fleet had worked for a few years prior to their arrest to strike a deal whereby Alford would pay $500 million to buy 545,000 acres of timberland in Taylor County which he would trade with the Air Force for a virgin gulf brow grip. military-owned beach tracts on Okaloosa Island.
Alford was caught selling interests in the same properties to several potential investors, and he spent about $3 million of the funds he had received on himself and to fund Fleet’s campaign for a seat of county judge.
Alford was sentenced in that instance to 10 years in prison for crimes including wire fraud and money laundering.
He was also convicted in Okaloosa County in 2017 of criminal use of personal information and communications fraud.
“Alford,” the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said following the arrest, “defrauded at least one investor about $350,000 by promising lucrative returns for the money earmarked for real estate projects.”
He “misrepresented the real estate assets to the investor and instead used the money for personal gain to buy expensive jewelry, cars, and renting the luxury Destin Yacht Club condominium, among other purchases,” the office said. of the sheriff.