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The Tallahassee Corruption Scandal Expands ... Did Andrew Gillum Avoid It?

May 14, 2019 - 8:15am
Scott Maddox, Paige Carter-Smith and John T. Burnette
Scott Maddox, Paige Carter-Smith and John T. Burnette

The sky is beginning to fall for a number of City of Tallahassee power players, at least the ones not named Andrew Gillum.

So, you might ask yourself, was the deal Gillum struck April 24 with the lightweight Florida Ethics Commission to pay a $5,000 fine in exchange for the commission dropping four of five corruption charges against him maybe the smartest move he'll make all year? 

Sure, the former Tallahassee mayor and 2018 Democratic candidate for governor was, as he said, tired of being tied to the FBI investigation of corruption within his administration, but settling for the state's $5,000 penalty and admitting to only one bribery charge might have been strategically made. The federal probe into the widespread corruption in the state capital is expanding, with many of the players surrounding Gillum’s issues now feeling the pressure of federal investigators coming down on them. And because Gillum paid a fine -- never had to come before the Ethics Commission itself -- and was involved in a sting, accepting gifts from lobbyists, the public perception is that he's out of hot water with feds, too.

It's all come just in time. The former mayor can keep his distance from the latest chaos.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced late last week it has delivered a “superseding” round of indictments involving a few of those names mentioned repeatedly over the course of the lengthy investigation. This brings the number the federal grand jury has now returned to a 47-count indictment against suspended Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Charles Maddox, 51, Tallahassee political consultant Janice Paige Carter-Smith, 54, and businessman John Thomas Burnette, 42, all of Tallahassee, Florida. 

The latest adds to the dozens that were initially handed down in December 2018, and includes the addition of John J.T. Burnette. The real estate baron is behind a number of entertainment and business office projects in the Tallahassee area. He also is recognized as the conduit between Maddox (himself a former Tallahassee mayor, and former head of the state Democratic Party) and the undercover FBI investigators. 

All three have been forced to turn over passports, and have been instructed not to leave the North Florida region without court approval. Following the new rash of DOJ indictments, Burnette turned himself in to authorities, and faced a judge for his arraignment. After entering his pleas of not guilty to the nine charges he is facing, he opted for the speedy trial, with a date now set for June 17. 

Federal prosecutors name Burnette as the man who helped facilitate payments to Maddox from the fictitious company that the undercover sting was positioning. The charges stemming from the probe levied against Burnette include racketeering, mail fraud, extortion, and making false statements.

Investigators have quoted Burnette, in referring to Maddox, as directing the undercover agents not to withhold payment from the former Democrat leader. “He’s a vengeful mother(expletive). Feed a dog for a year, stop feeding the dog, and it gets hungry, he may bite your (expletive) hand off.” Burnette's lawyer denies this, and states his client is fully innocent.

In the lengthy superseding indictment, Andrew Gillum is not named. It remains to be seen if federal investigators will focus in on the former candidate and current CNN personality. The point is, though he has been cleared of four of five of the state ethics charges, he does have the charge of accepting bribes, in the form of Broadway show tickets, from undercover federal agents. At the moment Gillum is looking to be cleared of the latest rash of federal indictments.

Brothers Marcus and Andrew Gillum and lobbyist/friend Adam Corey during a New York harbor boat ride with undercover FBI agents. Photo from the investigation
Brothers Marcus and Andrew Gillum and lobbyist/friend Adam Corey during a New York harbor boat ride with undercover FBI agents. Photo from the investigation

Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.

Comments

I haven't seen the Democrat party this angry since the Republicans freed their slaves.

Welcome to Florida the sign says... 've and stay for 5 to 10. The good old boy system of the Republican party is hard at work.. if the FBI had something all would be in Jail. State and Federal charges are two different things. You can be charged by both at the same time... ask Trump he will go through the same thing after losing in 2020.

Like many STDs, the feds often seem to be gone then just when one least suspects there's that nasty rash. And the feds are a very persistent rash. Mr Gillum may not be germ free yet

Like many STDs, the feds often seem to be gone then just when one least suspects there's that nasty rash. And the feds are a very persistent rash. Mr Gillum may not be germ free yet

Work dictum which works: Do your job, do it well, keep your nose clean.

Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier should be checking her mailbox for FBI stuff. She and Burnette had a cozy little real estate deal where he sold her a house and undervalued it by about $90,000 and she sold it about a year later for full value.

The State of Florida sure dodged a bullet keeping corrupt Gollum out of the governor's mansion.

First of all he was persuaded by FBI agents, second he complied and payed a fine, so he did what he had to do to clear his name of it, second he didn't win so until he accepts another bribe he's good.

Not much different than the investigations into the corruption of the Trump administration. (Getting Richard Nixon and John Mitchell back would be a plus!) Organized crime without the murders.

Just what corruption are you eluding to Skippy?

Yeah the Clinton's we're good for the murder part. What Odumbo did is FISA fraud ,amongst other things. Makes Nixon look like an amateur.

The Trumps make Nixon look like a Sunday School teacher so crawl back in your hole.

TDS

Hi "Chuckles"!

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive.." (W.S.)

The "Pretty-Tea-Party-Dress FBI Upper Echelon" IS STILL 'POLITICALLY IN-CHARGE' ("Shades of J. Edgar Hoover's Ghost !!!")

I'm no Gillum fan, but this commentary is comical. Ethics violations are exactly that. Just because you accept gifts, does not mean you have accepted "bribes". That involves quid pro quo, which I'm not sure you could prove here, especially since Gillum was not even there for any of the council votes to provide contracts. Words matter, facts matter, except of course, if you are unemployed blog writers...

And because you paid an 'ethics' fine does not exempt you from indictment if the ethics violation turns into something criminal.

The ethics charges are a state matter. There are numerous issues with Gillum with FBI undercover agents, which is a federal matter. Those same agents were involved with those indicted, during the same probe.

Out of respect for Andrew, mainly because my fetish love Hillary had him on her possable Vice President list, my FBI boys still loyal to "the cause" made a deal with the ethics commission to let Andrew pay a small fine and walk away from the Tallahassee investigation. Yeah we got some boys loyal to "the cause" on that commission. Bottom line Andrew walks away from the FBI investigation and theres nothing anyone can or will be able to do about it.

"Jim" I doubt you're even smart enough to know you are "toast" in America, and a huge disgrace to the FBI (and "by your own duplicitous hand").

"The charges stemming from the probe levied against Burnette include racketeering, mail fraud, extortion, and making false statements."---These charges compared against accepting Broadway tickets seems imbalanced compared to your hatred for Gillum.--Don't misunderstand me, I am not a Gillum fan, I am happy with the new governor.

My "hatred" There is also a Costa Rican vacation, to go with the New York trip, involving the same undercover agents connected with finding the recent indictments. One agent paid for the food and drinks at a Gillum PAC fundraiser. He had 5 ethics complaints lodged against him, which led to the penalty fine he recently paid. The FBI is still investigating.

"The FBI is still investigating"...( Yeah right ) !!!

Read the article. The latest indictments were delivered just days ago. This is far from over.

Pardon me, I did not know the full scope of his actions.

Yep...just the tip of the iceberg.... unfortunately the racketeers have infiltrated every level of government....

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