Politics

Associate to Rep. Matt Gaetz pleads guilty to sex trafficking, will cooperate with DOJ

Joel Greenberg, an associate of U.S. Rep Matt Gaetz, is set to plead guilty to charges of stalking, identity theft, wire fraud and sex trafficking.

All this comes as part of a wide-ranging Department of Justice investigation that is examining possible misconduct involving Gaetz and other Floridian politicians, according to court documents which are filed on Friday in U.S. District Court. Joel Greenberg, former tax collector for Seminole County and associate of Matt Gaetz will plead guilty to six of the 33 federal charges levied against him. Greenberg didn’t directly mention Gaetz in the court papers but did say that he and unidentified others paid a 17-year-old girl for sex on at least 7 occasions and that he “introduced the minor to other adult men who engaged in commercial sex acts.”

During these meetings Greenberg supplied the girl and the others with ecstasy.  According to the statement of facts filed by prosecutors these “commercial sex acts” were performed on the basis of a “sugar daddy” relationship and were arranged via a website. Further evidence brought forward shows that between December 2016 and December 2018, Greenberg used multiple work and personal accounts to conduct more than 150 financial transactions totalling over $70,000, all of which involved paying women for sex. The documents also revealed that following his arrest in June 2020, Greenberg contacted the girl and her friends to ensure that “their stories would line up because he knew his commercial sex acts with her were illegal.”

According to the plea, Greenberg also used his access to the state’s driver’s license database to look up the minor’s information. He also conducted “hundreds of unauthorized activities that had nothing to do with any legitimate activities of the Tax Collector’s Office.” Along with this he pleaded guilty to misusing the tax collector’s office funds, via an elaborate scam involving cryptocurrency and a blockchain company, which he set up to funnel the money to himself. The plea also mentioned that Greenberg continued with the schemes even after federal agents served a grand jury with a subpoena on his office.

The DOJ investigation is also looking at whether Gaetz has violated sex-trafficking laws by getting Greenberg to arrange sexual encounters, although this is something Gaetz had strenuously denied, with a spokesman saying that “ Congressman Gaetz has never had sex with a minor and has never paid for sex.” Gaetz has also claimed that the accusations against him are part of an extortion scheme to get his family to pay $25 million to stop the investigation.

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ARTICLE: NATHAN REID

POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: THE BOSTON GLOBE

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