Gaetz alleges extortion plot that included freedom for missing Jewish FBI agent

Florida Republican under investigation for alleged sexual relationship with minor brings Robert Levinson, who went missing in Iran in 2017, into increasingly complex scandal

US Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, on February 26, 2021. (AP/John Raoux, File)
US Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, on February 26, 2021. (AP/John Raoux, File)

JTA — Matt Gaetz, the Republican congressman under federal investigation for an alleged sexual relationship with a minor, has brought into the increasingly complex scandal an alleged bid to free Robert Levinson, the Jewish former FBI agent who went missing in Iran more than a dozen years ago.

On Wednesday, Gaetz and his father produced documents that suggest a trio of figures associated with the search for Levinson solicited $25 million from Gaetz’s father that would free the agent and get the congressman off the hook on charges from the relationship. The Gaetzes and Levinson are from Florida.

According to the purported plan, Matt Gaetz would be depicted as the man who freed Levinson, which would earn him good will from the US government and possibly a pardon for his alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.

Gaetz and his father, Don, who is said to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, say they alerted federal authorities to the alleged extortion scheme.

The three men in the alleged scheme are David McGee, a lawyer who has represented the Levinson family in their quest to uncover information about Levinson; Bob Kent, a retired military official who has searched for Levinson for years; and Stephen Alford, a convicted fraudster whom McGee has represented in the past.

There is no evidence that Levinson’s family was involved or that any of the three men were involved in the investigation into the accusations of Gaetz’s illicit affair. McGee has said he met the elder Gaetz, but has denied any extortion scheme.

Levinson’s family has accepted that he is dead based on evidence presented to them by the FBI. Levinson was in Iran on contract for the CIA when he disappeared in 2007. US officials say Iran is responsible for Levinson’s disappearance. Iran’s government has denied any involvement.

The investigation into Gaetz reportedly arose out of the probe of his friend Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax official who has been indicted for sex trafficking a minor, as well as identity theft and myriad other charges.

Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing. Until now he has been known for his associations with former president Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s far-right wing.

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