Court Battles

Florida man sentenced to five years in prison in Gaetz extortion plot

A Florida man was sentenced to 63 months in prison on Monday for his involvement in a plot to extort Don Gaetz, the father of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

Stephen Alford, a 63-year-old developer, pleaded guilty in November to scheming to extort $25 million from Don Gaetz, who was previously a state Senate president in Florida.

Prosecutors had been seeking between 11 and 14 years in prison; however, the judge for the Northern District of Florida, Casey Rodgers, said that request was incorrectly based on guidelines for stealing the money, rather than attempting to steal it.

“Intended loss does not fall within the bounds of reasonable interpretation for the term loss,” wrote Rodgers, Northwest Florida Daily News reported.

Alford’s plot would have seen him receive millions from Don Gaetz in exchange for promises of presidential pardon for Matt Gaetz, for any potential crimes from the FBI probe into sex trafficking allegations against the lawmaker.

An indictment filed last August charged Alford with wire fraud and attempting to prevent the seizure of an electronic device.

According to the indictment, Alford allegedly took part in a complex scheme called “Project Homecoming,” in which the Fort Walton Beach man claimed that his “‘team had been assured by the President’ that he will ‘strongly consider’ a ‘Presidential Pardon’ or ‘instruct the Department of Justice to terminate any and all investigations involving’” an individual, identified in reports as Matt Gaetz.

Federal prosecutors noted that the money gathered from the alleged extortion scheme was meant to be used to help rescue Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007.

Matt Gaetz touted the federal charges against Alford and blasted the alleged scheme on Twitter at the time, asserting, “I’ve been proven right. They tried to extort me on a pile of lies.”

Alford has a history of fraud and has attempted to extort other wealthy individuals in the past. He is being jailed for the third time in 16 years for his latest swindling efforts.

The Hill has reached out to Matt Gaetz and Alford’s lawyer for further comment.

Tags Don Gaetz Extortion Matt Gaetz Robert Levinson
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