Developer Charged in Scheme to Bilk Matt Gaetz’s Family

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Politics|Developer Charged successful Scheme to Bilk Matt Gaetz’s Family

The Justice Department arrested the antheral for seeking $25 cardinal for a statesmanlike pardon that would person purportedly ended a enactment trafficking probe into Mr. Gaetz.

Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, successful  June. Stephen Alford, a existent  property  developer, was arrested connected  Tuesday for his relation   successful  a strategy  to bilk $25 cardinal  from Mr. Gaetz’s family.
Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Michael S. Schmidt

Aug. 31, 2021, 8:41 p.m. ET

A Florida existent property developer was arrested connected Tuesday by the Justice Department for his relation successful a strategy to bilk $25 cardinal from the household of Representative Matt Gaetz successful speech for a purported statesmanlike pardon that would person ended a enactment trafficking probe into Mr. Gaetz.

The existent property developer, Stephen Alford, and his concern subordinate claimed to Mr. Gaetz’s father, Don, that President Biden would pardon Mr. Gaetz, the Florida Republican and adjacent state of erstwhile President Donald J. Trump, if they gave them $25 cardinal to assistance unafraid the merchandise of an American being held hostage successful Iran.

At the clip of the overtures, Matt Gaetz knew that helium was nether probe by national authorities for paying a 17-year-old miss for sex.

Don Gaetz, a erstwhile president of the Florida State Senate, alerted the F.B.I., which aboriginal determined that Mr. Alford and his associates were falsely representing that they could unafraid the pardon.

Matt Gaetz had earlier unsuccessfully sought a pardon from Mr. Trump earlier Mr. Trump near office.

The antheral who Mr. Alford claimed helium could escaped was Robert Levinson, a erstwhile F.B.I. cause who went missing successful Iran successful 2007 portion connected an unauthorized ngo for the C.I.A. The Trump medication told Mr. Levinson’s household past twelvemonth that the quality assemblage believed helium died successful captivity.

The United States Attorney’s bureau for the Northern District of Florida successful Jacksonville charged Mr. Alford with ligament fraud for making the mendacious claims to Don Gaetz and a number of trying to harm oregon destruct his iPhone during a court-authorized hunt of his spot successful April, according to tribunal papers made nationalist connected Tuesday.

The apprehension marks the latest improvement successful a national probe that began much than a twelvemonth agone into Matt Gaetz — who has not been charged — and others successful Florida authorities authorities for their roles successful paying women for sex. One of Mr. Gaetz’s allies, Joel Greenberg, pleaded blameworthy to paying a 17-year-old miss for sex, and told investigators that helium witnessed Mr. Gaetz having enactment with the aforesaid girl.

Mr. Alford and his concern subordinate archetypal made the overtures to Don Gaetz successful precocious March, according to the tribunal documents. At that point, Matt Gaetz had been told that helium was nether probe but it had not yet been publically reported. The documents failed to explicate however Mr. Alford knew that Mr. Gaetz was nether investigation.

The New York Times reported connected March 30 that Matt Gaetz was being investigated by the Justice Department implicit whether helium had had a intersexual narration with a 17-year-old and paid for her to question with him. In effect to questions astatine the time, Mr. Gaetz acknowledged that helium was nether probe but said that helium was the people of an extortion strategy related to Mr. Levinson.

Mr. Gaetz said that Mr. Alford, who had been antecedently convicted successful an unrelated fraud scheme, and Robert Kent, a erstwhile Air Force quality serviceman who runs a consulting business, had approached Don Gaetz astir backing their efforts to find Mr. Levinson, saying that if his lad played a relation successful helping to unafraid Mr. Levinson’s release, helium could person a pardon from Mr. Biden.

But successful bid to get Mr. Levinson’s release, Mr. Alford and Mr. Kent needed millions of dollars, Mr. Gaetz said. Don Gaetz told the F.B.I. astir the overtures and wore a ligament to grounds his conversations with Mr. Alford, Mr. Gaetz said.

Mr. Kent has denied the Gaetzes’ assertions, saying that helium had been told of rumors that Matt Gaetz whitethorn person immoderate ineligible issues. “I told him I’m not trying to extort, but if this were true, helium mightiness beryllium funny successful doing thing good,” Mr. Kent said successful an interrogation astatine the time.

Shortly aft the Justice Department announced Mr. Alford’s apprehension connected Tuesday, Mr. Gaetz tweeted a connection that pointed retired that helium had been telling the information erstwhile helium revealed the extortion crippled successful the outpouring and said others should beryllium charged successful the scheme.

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