The man accused of extorting Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and his family pleaded guilty in federal court this week to one of the three counts of wire fraud he had been charged with.
The once-prominent businessman, Stephen Alford, originally entered a not guilty plea on Oct. 1. But he changed that plea on Monday in court before U.S. Magistrate Elizabeth Timothy, according to NWF Daily News.
He will be sentenced on Feb. 16 and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
A grand jury indicted Alford in October for trying to extort $25 million from Gaetz’s father, former Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, with the promise of a presidential pardon for Matt Gaetz, who is under federal investigation for alleged sex trafficking.
No criminal charges have been filed against Matt Gaetz, and he has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
Alford reportedly needed the money from Gaetz’s father to rescue Robert Levinson, a CIA operative who disappeared in 2007, from Iran, where he is reportedly being held.
“Alford falsely represented that he will ‘get that pardon’ for (Matt Gaetz) and falsely promised D.G. that Alford would take D.G. ‘by the hand to see the President of the United States,’” the indictment reads.
Alford also falsely promised Don Gaetz “that I will assure you that (Matt Gaetz) will get off his problems” and that Alford could guarantee Matt Gaetz would not go to prison if Don Gaetz agreed to work with him.
Matt Gaetz celebrated Alford’s indictment and vowed to go after everyone else who was working with him on the scheme next.