Former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, a known associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), has struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors in which he will be required to cooperate with ongoing investigations, according to the Washington Examiner, in a development that could cause serious difficulties for the Republican lawmaker whom reports suggest may be implicated in his crimes.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that Greenberg, once the tax collector in Seminole County, is set to plead guilty to six federal offenses in a deal whereby he must provide cooperation in the “investigation and prosecution of other persons.” In exchange for the dismissal of 27 other counts against him, Greenberg will admit to sex trafficking of a minor, identity theft, wire fraud, stalking, and conspiracy to bribe a public official.
Though a spokesperson for the Florida congressman pointed out to the Examiner that Gaetz “doesn’t seem to be named or referenced in Mr. Greenberg’s plea” and stated that the lawmaker “has never had sex with a minor and has never paid for sex,” news reports earlier this year suggested that Gaetz was indeed under federal investigation with regard to Greenberg’s possible involvement in sex trafficking.
According to the Sentinel, investigators have been probing whether Gaetz had sexual relations with a 17-year-old girl Greenberg was alleged to have trafficked and whether the congressman paid for travel and sex with escorts, among other possible offenses.
The paper further noted that if Gaetz were to be charged and convicted with soliciting sex with a minor, he could face charges under the same trafficking statute as Greenberg, and he could be prosecuted under the Mann Act, which prohibits the transporting of anyone across state or national boundaries for purposes of prostitution, the Sentinel further noted.
Though he has vehemently denied accusations of wrongdoing, including during a bizarre March interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson in which he claimed he was being extorted by a former Justice Department official, Greenberg’s plea deal is likely to be of significant concern to Gaetz.
Greenberg’s plea compels his cooperation in the ongoing probe widely believed to include Gaetz, and if he provides information that is of “substantial assistance” to the government, he will be eligible for a more favorable sentencing recommendation.
The charges to which Greenberg will plead guilty carry no less than 12 years in prison, and as a result of his admissions, he will be classified as a sex offender for the remainder of his life, creating a strong incentive for him to secure such concessions.
While it remains to be seen whether Gaetz was indeed involved in the type of nefarious activities to which Greenberg will admit on Monday, this plea deal seems likely to cause the congressman some sleepless nights.