A Florida developer has been charged with attempting to extort $25 million from the father of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz to effectively shut down a criminal sex-trafficking investigation connected to the Republican congressman.
The person charged has been identified as Stephen Alford, of Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The 62-year-old Alford was indicted Tuesday on charges of wire fraud and destruction of property subject to a seizure warrant, according to Politico.
The indictment alleges Alford in March and April attempted to get Gaetz’s wealthy father, Don, to pay the large sum as part of a complex deal that would also fund an effort to rescue a former FBI agent Robert Levinson who disappeared in Iran in 2007.
U.S. officials think Levinson was arrested and died in Iranian custody. Iran has denied arresting Levinson.
According to the indictment, Alford said he could “guarantee” that one of Don Gaetz’s family members would not go to prison if the money Alford demanded was paid. Don Gaetz has publicly said he wore an FBI wire, which apparently was connected to the Alford matter.
The indictment refers to Don Gaetz, a former Florida state Senate leader, as "D.G." and describes the investigation to be extinguished as one "by the FBI for various public corruption and public integrity issues," also according to Politico.
The indictment lists three other people allegedly involved in the matter.