A federal probe into possible corruption in Tallahassee’s city hall has resulted in a 44-count indictment that alleges extortion, fraud and bribery — and implicates a former occupant of the mayor’s office and his longtime business partner.
But despite attacks from political rivals painting him as corrupt and an FBI target, former Mayor Andrew Gillum was not mentioned in the grand jury indictment released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Instead it was another former Tallahassee mayor and the former head of the state’s Democratic Party, Scott Charles Maddox, whom the federal government has accused of masterminding a racketeering enterprise that extorted clients with business before the city and accepted bribes.
Maddox, 50, and his longtime business partner and former chief-of-staff Janice Paige Carter-Smith, 53, were indicted Tuesday for “conspiring to operate a racketeering enterprise that engaged in acts of bank fraud, extortion, honest services fraud and bribery,” the Department of Justice released in a statement Wednesday morning.
The indictment alleges that Maddox used his influence as a city commissioner to illegally benefit two corporations he operated with Carter-Smith and whose clientele included individuals with business before the city. The corporations, Governance Inc. and Governance Services LLC, provided government and lobbying services. They were operated and presented to the public as one entity under the name Governance.
“Per the indictment, Governance was part of a racketeering enterprise that extorted money and accepted bribes from Governance clients under color of Maddox’s office and through fear of the economic harm that Maddox could inflict in his position as an influential City Commissioner,” the DOJ statement says. “The indictment alleges that Maddox voted on matters and exerted influence on City employees to take actions that benefited the businesses that paid Maddox and Carter-Smith through Governance.”
FBI documents made public in February, which outlined the case against Maddox, did not identify Gillum as a target of the probe, but the political fallout of being associated with the investigation would ensnare the popular liberal and ultimately doom his run for governor. The investigation is still ongoing, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Kunz.
It also exposed Gillum’s ties to a friend-turned-lobbyist, who organized trips for Gillum and his family, and made public that Gillum had attended a showing of the Broadway play “Hamilton” on a ticket paid for by an undercover FBI agent investigating corruption in the capital city.
Maddox served as mayor from 1997 to 2003. During his time in office, he created Governance Inc. and later worked as a lobbyist and consultant until he was elected to the city commission in 2012. Prior to the election, Maddox told the then-city attorney that he would divest from the company. He didn’t, and continued to manage and benefit from the business during his six years in office. He was re-elected to another four-year term in 2016.
Gillum, who was not implicated in the indictment, served as mayor from 2014 until 2018. After news broke earlier this year about the investigation into the Governance corporations, his campaign said it would return a $10,000 check to his political committee from Governance Services LLC.
Carter-Smith, who served under Maddox during his time as mayor, incorporated Governance Services LLC around 2007 and after 2010, took control of Governance Inc. She operated both corporations at the direction of Maddox, the indictment alleges.
The DOJ further alleges that both Maddox and Carter-Smith made false statements to the FBI and state ethics investigators about Maddox’s involvement in Governance, and that Maddox made false statements under oath to a Florida Commission on Ethics investigator and during a sworn deposition.
Prosecutors also accuse the two of defrauding a bank of more than $250,000 through fraudulent “short sales of real property” and violated federal tax laws by “conspiring to interfere with the IRS and filing false tax returns.”