A man accused by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) of taking part in a conspiracy to extort $25 million from his family by promising to make a federal sex crimes investigation involving the congressman go away was arrested Tuesday after being hit with federal charges.
Stephen Alford, 62, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was indicted on one count of wire fraud and one count of attempting to prevent the seizure of an electronic device. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
Investigators say that in March of this year, Alford crafted a document titled “Project Homecoming” for an unidentified co-conspirator to discuss with a person identified only in the indictment as “D.G.” The document suggested that President Biden would “strongly consider” either issuing a pardon to a person identified as “Family Member A” or instructing the Justice Department to “terminate any and all investigations” related to “Family Member A”.
Though Alford was the only person identified in the indictment, the details correspond to previously reported information about Gaetz’s claims. “D.G.” likely refers to Gaetz’s father, Don, a former president of the Florida State Senate, while “Family Member A” is believed to refer to Gaetz himself.
The “Project Homecoming” document, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Examiner in March, claimed the $25 million would be used to secure the release of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who disappeared in 2007 while on an unauthorized CIA mission in Iran. Levinson’s family announced in March 2020 that they believed he had died while in Iranian government custody.
The document stated that Matt Gaetz was “currently under investigation by the FBI for various public corruption and public integrity issues” and claimed investigators knew of “compromising pictures” depicting Gaetz in a “sexual orgy with underage prostitutes” and described the congressman as “a target of a widening investigation into serious underage sex trafficking, political corruption, public integrity, and other criminal allegations.”
The document suggested that Gaetz “mitigate his legal, and political, troubles” by arranging the funds for Levinson’s purported release, which Biden supposedly considered “a matter of National Urgency”.
“The team is highly confident that the President will indeed hail Congressman Gaetz as a national hero and Congressman Gaetz’s national & international profile shall be greatly enhanced by his key assistance in the release of Robert Levinson,” it read.
Gaetz, a populist and strong supporter of former President Donald Trump, is reportedly under investigation by federal authorities, who are looking into whether he slept with a 17-year-old girl and violated sex trafficking laws. The probe stems from an investigation into Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector of Seminole County, Fla. who is currently awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to six criminal charges — including sex trafficking.
Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing and has claimed that the investigation stems from the failed shakedown attempt.
“Stephen Alford, who was indicted today for extorting my family, was not acting alone,” Gaetz told Just The News Tuesday. “He had support and coordination with people who have deep ties to the United States federal government, so there’s more to come on this, but I think the American people can take some comfort in knowing that I have been straight with them. I have been honest, I have been transparent, and these things that they’ve said about me are false, and the allegations I’ve made against my extortionists are now resulting in indictments.”
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