Joel Greenberg Pleads Guilty, Agrees to Cooperate Against Gaetz

  • Former Florida tax official and Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg pleaded guilty to 6 counts on Monday.
  • He appeared before a judge and pleaded guilty to sex-trafficking, wire fraud, identity theft, stalking, and conspiracy.
  • Greenberg also agreed to cooperate fully with the government in any related cases.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The former Florida county tax collector Joel Greenberg formally pleaded guilty to six felony counts on Monday and agreed to cooperate with the US government in the investigation and potential prosecution of others.

Appearing in federal court in Orlando, Florida, Greenberg pleaded guilty to one count of carrying out the sex trafficking of a child, one count of producing a false identification document, one count of aggravated identity theft, one count of wire fraud, one count of stalking, and one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States.

In exchange for leniency, Greenberg must “cooperate fully” with the US government “in the investigation and prosecution of other persons,” and potentially testify before a federal court or federal grand jury in connection to the charges in this case and other matters, the plea agreement said. His cooperation would also include a “full and complete disclosure of all relevant information” and documents that are connected to the government’s inquiry.

Greenberg’s plea deal has been widely anticipated. Insider first reported on the charges he would plead guilty to, and previous media reports said he’s been cooperating with prosecutors since last year.

He was initially indicted on 33 felony counts, and legal experts say prosecutors’ agreement to whittle those charges down to just six indicates Greenberg has information of significant value to offer the government.

Greenberg’s plea deal is bad news for Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz. His name is not mentioned in the document, but it’s been previously reported that he’s a target of the same criminal investigation that ensnared Greenberg. The two men ran in the same wealthy, Republican circles in Florida and were close associates before Greenberg agreed to strike a deal with prosecutors.

Gaetz has not been charged with a crime, and his spokesperson told Insider in an earlier statement that the lawmaker is innocent.

Greenberg’s plea deal says he conducted 150 financial transactions totaling $70,000 between December 2016 and December 2018 to pay women for “commercial sex acts.” He disguised the transactions by giving them labels like “food,” “ice cream,” and “school,” the document said.

One of the women Greenberg had sex with multiple times was 17 years old at the time and represented herself as an adult on the “sugar baby” website they connected on. The plea deal said that in addition to his own interactions with the minor, Greenberg also put her in contact with others, though the document didn’t say who those people were.

The New York Times, which first broke the news of the Justice Department’s investigation into Gaetz, said prosecutors suspect the Florida lawmaker of having had sex with a woman who was 17 years old at the time of their alleged encounters in 2019. The report said that the sex-trafficking count against Greenberg involved the same girl.

The Times reported last month that Greenberg has given investigators information about an “array of topics” since he began cooperating last year, including telling them that he and Gaetz had interactions with women who were given cash and gifts in exchange for sex.

According to The Daily Beast, Greenberg also said in a recent letter that Gaetz paid for sex with a minor. Greenberg is said to have sent the letter to the longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone in the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency in a last-ditch bid to obtain a pardon.

Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing and denied the allegations against him, saying the Justice Department’s investigation is part of a multimillion dollar extortion scheme against him and his family.

“The first indictment of Joel Greenberg alleges that he falsely accused another man of sex with a minor for his own gain. That man was apparently innocent. So is Congressman Gaetz,” his spokesperson, Harlan Hill, said.

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