Former Gaetz Associate Strikes Deal To Plead Guilty And Cooperate With Prosecutors

Former Gaetz Associate Strikes Deal To Plead Guilty And Cooperate With Prosecutors

- in Politics

(CNN)An indicted close confidant of Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz has struck a deal with federal prosecutors to greatly reduce his criminal case and plans to help investigators in their sprawling investigation that includes a sex trafficking probe.

Joel Greenberg, a former Seminole County, Florida, tax commissioner, had faced decades in prison on 33 federal counts that ranged from identity theft to sex trafficking of a minor, as well as fraud and bribery allegations.

He plans to now plead guilty to six federal charges, after striking a deal with prosecutors, including a count of sex trafficking of a child, according to a new court filing.

      The Greenberg plea documents released Friday paint the picture of a man gone wild — using popular cellphone apps to make contacts, paying thousands of dollars for sex with younger women, having drug-laced, multi-person rendezvous at hotels like an Embassy Suites, and repeatedly taking advantage of his public office’s power and financial coffers.

        The Orlando-based federal court revealed on Thursday that Greenberg was planning to plead guilty next week, but details weren’t initially available.

        Federal investigators are still examining whether Gaetz broke federal sex trafficking, prostitution and public corruption laws and whether he had sex with a minor. Gaetz has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing. The congressman isn’t mentioned in the 86 pages of plea deal documents released on Friday.

          Gaetz spokesman Harlan Hill questioned Greenberg’s credibility while insisting on his client’s innocence in a statement. “Congressman Gaetz doesn’t seem to be named nor referenced in Mr. Greenberg’s plea,” Hill said. “Congressman Gaetz has never had sex with a minor and has never paid for sex. Mr. Greenberg has now pleaded guilty to falsely accusing someone else of sex with a minor. That person was innocent. So is Congressman Gaetz.”

          In the plea agreement, Greenberg admitted to falsely accusing a Florida teacher of having sex with a student in 2019. Greenberg allegedly targeted the teacher after he filed paperwork to oppose Greenberg for county tax collector. Greenberg admits to sending anonymous letters to school officials, purported to be from a “concerned student” alleging an inappropriate relationship between a student and the teacher. Greenberg also amplified these false claims on social media sites, where he alleged the teacher had raped a student.

          Greenberg’s pattern of false statements and accusations could be used to undermine his credibility as a witness in any case where he is called to testify.

          The investigation

          The investigation into Greenberg resulted in an indictment last June on allegations of elaborate schemes against a political opponent and making fake IDs.

          The bulk of the charges revolved around accusations Greenberg stalked and harassed a political opponent who worked at a school, by trying to falsely frame the person as a white supremacist and child abuser, on a fake Twitter account he allegedly set up using the person’s name and photograph and in nine letters he mailed to the school where he posed as an anonymous student.

          Previously, CNN reported that Greenberg had been providing information to investigators about how he and Gaetz had encounters with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex.

          And prosecutors hint at others whom Greenberg was in contact with.

          As part of his plea deal, Greenberg plans to admit in court that he introduced a child “to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts w

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