Gaetz associate pleading guilty to sex trafficking minor and 5 other felonies

In lengthy plea agreement, former Florida tax collector admits to ‘commercial sex acts’ with minor that involved other men

Alex Woodward
New York
Friday 14 May 2021 21:11
Matt Gaetz claims support of Trump and Taylor Greene after sex trafficking allegations
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A former Florida tax collector and associate of US Rep Matt Gaetz has admitted in court documents to sex trafficking a minor, among several other felonies, and will agree to cooperate with the US Department of Justice, potentially aiding prosecutors in a related investigation involving the Republican lawmaker.

Mr Gaetz was not named in court documents filed in US District Court on Friday. He has not been charged with any crimes and has adamantly denied allegations against him.

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

The former Seminole County tax chief also agreed to plead guilty to aggravated identity theft and wire fraud in addition to the trafficking charge, pending agreements among prosecutors to dismiss the other 27 counts against him – in exchange for his cooperation with prosecutors “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.

A plea hearing is scheduled for 10am on Monday.

The Florida congressman – a close alley of former president Donald Trump – 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.

The House Ethics Committee also has opened an investigation into Mr Gaetz concerning allegations that he “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.

The plea agreement filed on Friday provides the lengthiest publicly available outline and evidence in Mr Greenberg’s case thus far.

It finds that he made 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.

He engaged in “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, prosecutors said.

Following his arrest in June 2020, Mr Greenberg contacted the girl and her friends in an effort to ensure that “their stories would line up, because he knew that his commercial sex acts with her were illegal,” according to documents.

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