Trial of Andrew Gillum, Sharon Lettman-Hicks could last a month

Federal trial on conspiracy, wire fraud set to begin April 17
In this Nov. 10, 2018 file photo, Andrew Gillum, then-Democratic candidate for governor, speaks...
In this Nov. 10, 2018 file photo, Andrew Gillum, then-Democratic candidate for governor, speaks at a news conference in Tallahassee, Fla. A federal judge in Florida has refused to throw out criminal charges against Gillum, refuting his assertions that he was the victim of selective prosecution. Gillum and a colleague were indicted last year on federal charges including conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements to FBI agents. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon, File)(Associated Press)
Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 8:24 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The federal trial of former Tallahassee Mayor and Florida Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and campaign advisor Sharon Lettman-Hicks is set to begin in less than two weeks.

Gillum and Lettman-Hicks joined attorneys for a conference call Wednesday afternoon.

Federal prosecutors told the judge it’ll take about two weeks to present their case, Gillum’s attorney estimated his defense could last 4-5 days, and Lettman-Hicks’ attorney estimated her defense could last another 2-3 days.

The estimates came as the defense team pushed for prosecutors to turn over any remaining evidence, including transcripts of all the recordings they intend to introduce at trial.

Gillum and Lettman-Hicks are poised to stand trial April 17th on charges of conspiracy and wire fraud. Gillum faces an additional charge of lying to the FBI.

The two are accused of funneling money donated to his political campaign for his personal use.

The judge is expected to hear a flurry of motions at a pre-trial hearing on Monday, April 10th.

Gillum’s defense team is asking the judge to bar the jury from hearing a half dozen recordings made by undercover FBI agents. Five of the recordings do not include Gillum at all, they argue. Gillum is present at the Edison Restaurant for the sixth recording but leaves after one hour and 22 minutes, court documents say. The recording continues for another three hours.

Gillum’s attorneys claim prosecutors are playing the recordings to try “to dirty up Andrew Gillum with unfounded rumors and innuendo concerning accepting bribes and illegal campaign contributions.”

Gillum’s attorneys are also asking the judge to bar the jury from seeing any evidence of his April 2019 Florida Ethics Commission settlement. In that settlement, Gillum agreed to pay a $5000 civil fine.

Gillum attorney David Oscar Markus called the settlement “non-probative, irrelevant and therefore inadmissible because settlements may be motivated by factors other than a concession of wrongdoing or “weakness of position.”

Federal prosecutors have also filed several motions in recent weeks.

U.S. Attorney Jason Coody asking the judge to bar the jury from hearing any of Gillum’s claims of selective prosecution and a nearly five-year delay in charging him with a crime.

Prosecutors saying “such evidence is irrelevant and only serves to divert the jury’s attention to matters unrelated to Defendant’s guilt or innocence.”

Prosecutors also asked the judge to issue a protective order that would allow two of the undercover FBI agents central to their case to enter both the courthouse and courtroom through non-public entrances and make sure there are no pictures, videos or courtroom sketches made of the agents.

“Public disclosure of the identities of the UCE’s in this case would place the UCE’s at personal risk of harm due to their prior and present cases and will jeopardize current and future investigations,” prosecutors argued.

The judge is expected to rule on the motions during Monday’s pre-trial hearing.

Attorneys on the conference call also mentioned the possibility of a superseding indictment and the possibility of delaying the trial. The judge indicated right now the case is moving forward as planned.

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