Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg asks court to delay sentencing in trafficking case

GOP congressman’s former ally ‘cooperating with the government’ in wide-ranging DOJ probe

Alex Woodward
New York
Tuesday 05 October 2021 20:34
Matt Gaetz claims support of Trump and Taylor Greene after sex trafficking allegations
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Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax official and an ally to Republican US Rep Matt Gaetz, has asked a federal judge to delay his sentencing a second time after he pleaded guilty in a wide-ranging case involving sex trafficking and conspiracy as he cooperates with federal prosecutors.

Attorneys for Mr Greenberg filed a motion in US District Court on 5 October asking the court to move his sentencing hearing – he faces a minimum of 12 years in prison – to 22 March. He is currently scheduled to appear in court on 19 November.

The GOP congressman’s associate pleaded guilty to sex trafficking a minor, among other charges, and is potentially aiding prosecutors in a related investigation involving Mr Gaetz.

Mr Greenberg admitted to introducing a “minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts” with her, according to a plea agreement filed on 14 May. The other men were not named.

The former Seminole County tax chief also pleaded guilty to five other felonies, including aggravated identity theft and wire fraud, in addition to the trafficking charge, as part of an agreement to dismiss the other 27 counts against him.

In exchange, he has agreed to cooperate with the US Department of Justice “in the investigation and prosecutions of other persons, and to testify” in related proceedings.

In the event that he provides “substantial assistance” in those cases, he may be eligible for a more lenient prison sentence than what is outlined in federal sentencing guidelines, according to court documents.

The Florida congressman is reportedly the focus of a Justice Department investigation over an alleged relationship with a 17-year-old girl, and whether he violated federal sex-trafficking laws by allegedly paying her to travel with him.

Mr Gaetz has not been named in court documents. He has not been charged with any crimes and has adamantly denied allegations against him.

In the latest filing, Fritz Scheller, an attorney for Mr Greenberg, says he “has been cooperating with the government and has participated in a series of proffers.”

“Said cooperation, which could impact his ultimate sentence, cannot be completed prior to the time of his sentencing,” according to Mr Scheller. “The parties expect that Mr Greenberg will participate in additional proffers, and a continuance would provide Mr Greenberg with additional time to do so prior to his sentencing.”

Mr Greenberg has admitted to “commercial sex acts” with a minor “at least seven times” while she was under 18 years old, according to court documents. He also would “offer and supply” her with Ecstasy, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors reported more than 150 financial transactions totaling more than $70,000 from 2016 to 2018, “all of which involved Greenberg paying women for commercial sex acts” using Venmo, his American Express card or an American Express card supplied by the tax collector’s office, according to court documents.

In April, the House Ethics Committee announced its intentions to investigate whether Mr Gaetz “engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use” and reports that he allegedly shared “inappropriate” images and videos on the floor of the House of Representatives.

That committee is also investigating whether he “misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use” or accepted bribes.

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