U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz is calling attention to a federal judge’s curiosity about why the Justice Department has failed to charge an operative involved in a scheme to swindle the congressman’s father.
The Fort Walton Beach Republican on Tuesday retweeted a post by conservative activist Mike Cernovich, who had posted an article that referenced the case involving Stephen Alford, who was sentenced to five years in prison back in February.
Alford was convicted of trying to extort $25 million from Don Gaetz, the congressman’s father. The money was to be used to try to bring home Robert Levinson, a former CIA operative who disappeared in Iran in 2007. Levinson is presumed dead.
In exchange for the money, Alford offered the elder Gaetz help in keeping Matt Gaetz out of legal trouble during an investigation into an alleged sex-trafficking case involving a 17-year-old girl.
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Matt Gaetz repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and last month federal prosecutors announced they would not seek charges against him. One reason was that their key witnesses, including the alleged victim, were deemed unreliable.
Yet U.S. District Judge Margaret Casey Rodgers wonders why prosecutors have let skate a second man involved in the scheme to defraud the Gaetz family, according to an article by Breitbart News, which first reported it.
Citing court records of Alford’s sentencing, Brietbart reported that the judge told prosecutors point blank she believed they had evidence to go after Bob Kent, a former State Department contractor who had been involved in other attempts to “rescue” Levinson.
Reporting on Alford’s sentencing earlier this year, the Northwest Florida Daily News noted that the scheme began when Don Gaetz received a text about Levinson from someone the feds described only as “Person A,” who was working with Alford.
Breitbert pointed out that Kent was the “first point of contact” with Don Gaetz and that Kent later admitted to contacting Gaetz about the $25 million payment and arranging the meeting with Alford. In court records, Breitbart noted, “Don Gaetz explains Kent’s role and how he was involved in each step of the extortion scheme.”
Given that, Judge Rodgers questioned why he, too, is not facing charges during an exchange with Assistant U.S. Attorney David Goldberg.
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Goldberg argued that Alford was the only suspect the government had provable evidence against.
In her reply, Rodgers said, “It seems like Mr. Gaetz might think differently.” The judge added that she might agree with prosecutors that charges might not hold up against a third man allegedly involved in the scheme. But, “I’m not so sure about Mr. Kent,” the judge said of possible charges of wire fraud and conspiracy.
Congressman Gaetz told Breitbart, “There was more than one person involved in this criminal shakedown of my family. The federal government has only chosen to hold one accountable, and I am concerned that they’re protecting the people who have the connections to the U.S. government.”