Andrew Gillum wants to block Lil Wayne concert testimony, wiretapped bribery talks from trial

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Lawyers for Andrew Gillum are trying to keep out of evidence hours of secretly recorded conversations between members of his inner circle and undercover FBI agents, arguing the former Tallahassee mayor wasn’t present when alleged bribery discussions occurred.

The conversations include various wiretaps along with the first time Gillum was introduced to the FBI agents, who posed as out-of-state developers willing to pay bribes to get government approvals. Gillum left that May 2016 dinner before one of the agents mentioned donations and not wanting any records "tied back to him," according to a recent defense filing.

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Former Mayor Andrew Gillum exits the Division of Administrative Hearing after settling with the Florida Commission on Ethics Wednesday, April 24, 2019.
Former Mayor Andrew Gillum exits the Division of Administrative Hearing after settling with the Florida Commission on Ethics Wednesday, April 24, 2019.

His legal team, led by David Markus of Miami, also wants to prevent jurors from hearing testimony about conversations during and after a Lil Wayne concert on Oct. 28, 2016, at the Civic Center. Gillum’s lawyers said that a recording exists from the concert and drinks afterward at Potbelly’s, but “due to the sound quality it is difficult to hear anyone talking.”

It’s not entirely clear who all joined the undercover agents during the concert and a Florida State football game the next day, when bribes were allegedly discussed, because their names were redacted from court filings.

However, the filing says the government wants to use hours of conversations between agents "pushing their agenda of bribes and other illegal activity" with Individuals A and B when Gillum wasn't around. Individual A is Adam Corey, a one-time close Gillum friend; Individual B is Marcus Gillum, his brother, according to earlier filings by lawyers for Gillum's co-defendant, Sharon Lettman-Hicks.

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Individual B allegedly discussed a $25,000 campaign donation with the agents on the same dates as the concert and football game. According to the indictment, the agents said they wanted “unencumbered government” approvals in return for the money. Individual B said that “would not be a problem.”

The former mayor and Lettman-Hicks, owner of P&P communications and a longtime Gillum confidante, are scheduled to go on trial April 17 on federal charges that they illegally funneled campaign donations to themselves. Gillum, a Democrat who narrowly lost the 2018 governor’s race, also is charged with lying about a 2016 trip to New York, where he and his brother and Corey were wined and dined by the undercover agents.

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The pair were indicted in June in the same undercover FBI operation that led to the arrests and convictions of former Mayor and City Commissioner Scott Maddox, his aide, Paige Carter-Smith, and wealthy developer John “J.T.” Burnette. All three were sentenced to federal prison time.

Gillum’s lawyers argued that the recordings and related testimony in which their client wasn’t present should be excluded as inadmissible hearsay. They also gave a possible preview of their case — asserting that after Gillum himself wouldn’t engage in a quid pro quo with agents, they went after him for making false statements.

“After all of this time, taxpayer money and energy trying to make a case against the mayor, the government was left with nothing, so it tried a game of gotcha instead,” his lawyers wrote.

The defense motion is among a flurry of recent filings in the run-up to the trial, which will be held at the U.S. Courthouse in Tallahassee. Defense lawyers also asked to exclude a Florida Commission on Ethics case that resulted in Gillum agreeing to pay a $5,000 for accepting a boat ride from the agents in New York. Gillum's lawyers say the case is barred from evidence under federal rules.

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The government, meanwhile, filed a motion asking to keep the true identities of the FBI agents secret during the trial. It’s likely those agents include “Mike Miller,” who posed as a developer, and “Mike Sweet,” who posed as a medical marijuana financier, during Operation Capital Currency, the federal corruption probe that began in 2015. Both testified under their aliases during the Burnette trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Grogan, Gary Milligan and Joseph Ravelo are prosecuting the case. U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor is presiding over the trial.

If convicted, Gillum and Lettman-Hicks face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud; Gillum also faces up to five years in prison for making false statements.

Contact Jeff Burlew at and follow @JeffBurlew on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Andrew Gillum wants to exclude wiretaps, concert testimony from trial