Matt Gaetz Associate Joel Greenberg Set to Plead Guilty to Sex Trafficking
By Rebecca Davis O'Brien
A former Florida tax collector is set to plead guilty Monday to
sex trafficking and other felony counts in a wide-ranging Justice
Department investigation that is examining possible misconduct
involving U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz and other Florida political figures,
according to court documents filed Friday in federal court.
Joel Greenberg, who resigned as Seminole County tax collector
last June, will plead guilty to one count of sex trafficking
involving a person under 18 years old, along with counts of wire
fraud, identity theft and stalking, according to an 86-page
statement of facts filed by federal prosecutors. The plea agreement
requires Mr. Greenberg to cooperate in the investigation -- which
is being run out of Florida and Washington, D.C. -- including the
"prosecution of other persons."
The investigation is looking at whether Mr. Greenberg, an
associate and political ally of Mr. Gaetz, arranged for sexual
encounters between the Florida Republican congressman and young
women, The Wall Street Journal has reported. Investigators are
looking at whether Mr. Gaetz violated sex-trafficking laws, the
"Congressman Gaetz has never had sex with a minor and has never
paid for sex," a spokesman for Mr. Gaetz said.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Florida didn't
immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing and portrayed the
accusations against him as part of an extortion scheme to get his
family to pay $25 million to put an end to the investigation. Mr.
Gaetz isn't named in Mr. Greenberg's plea.
Mr. Greenberg's plea agreement arrived in time for a May 15
deadline set in an April court hearing. After that hearing, Mr.
Greenberg's lawyer, Fritz Scheller, told reporters "I'm sure Matt
Gaetz isn't feeling very comfortable today." On Friday, Mr.
Scheller said his client planned to plead guilty and was bound by
the terms of the agreement.
Mr. Greenberg, 37 years old, admitted to paying for commercial
sex acts, including as part of "sugar daddy" relationships arranged
through a website where Mr. Greenberg said he paid women for sex
acts with him and others, according to the statement of facts filed
by federal prosecutors. Between December 2016 and December 2018,
Mr. Greenberg used multiple work and personal accounts to conduct
more than 150 financial transactions totaling over $70,000, all of
which involved paying women for sex, according to the plea
One was an underage woman whose account on a "sugar daddy"
website represented that she was 18 years old, the plea said. In
2017, according to the plea, Mr. Greenberg repeatedly paid her to
have sex with him, meeting at hotels in central Florida, sometimes
with other people, even though he knew she was likely underage. In
these encounters, Mr. Greenberg would supply her and others with
ecstasy, the plea said, and he also introduced her to other adult
men who also engaged in sex acts with her.
According to the plea, Mr. Greenberg used his access to the
state driver's license database to look up the minor's information.
He also conducted "hundreds of unauthorized searches that had
nothing to do with any legitimate activities of the Tax Collector's
Office," the plea said. Two of the counts relate to those
He also pleaded guilty to misusing tax collector's office funds,
including through an elaborate fraud involving cryptocurrency and a
blockchain company he set up. He funneled money to himself, he
admitted, and concealed his efforts from auditors. Some of these
activities continued even after Mr. Greenberg became aware of a
federal investigation into the tax collector's office, when federal
agents served a grand jury subpoena on the office, the plea
Mr. Greenberg was active in Florida GOP activities before his
indictment last summer on charges that he tried to intimidate a
political challenger. He pleaded guilty to a stalking charge in
connection with this episode. A 33-count indictment was filed
against him in March, expanding the charges to include financial
fraud involving his office, as well as sex-trafficking and theft of
--Siobhan Hughes contributed to this article.
Write to Rebecca Davis O'Brien at Rebecca.OBrien@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 14, 2021 16:35 ET (20:35 GMT)
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