Lawyers for both sides seemed to indicate in a Florida court hearing Thursday that a former Seminole County tax collector is cooperating with prosecutors—a development that could provide a major boost to the investigation of US Rep. Matt Gaetz. Joel Greenberg faces a host of charges, including sex trafficking a minor; federal investigators are looking into the same charge for Gaetz. "I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today," Fritz Scheller, an attorney for Greenberg, told reporters after the hearing. A federal prosecutor had told the judge, "We believe this case is going to be a plea," and Scheller had agreed with him, Politico reports. The judge endorsed the idea, which would avoid a trial. Although no one mentioned Gaetz in the hearing, the comments taken together could well have been intended to pressure him.
Prosecutors have added charges recently in Greenberg's case, which could be intended to pressure him to cooperate. Scheller would not say Thursday whether Greenberg, who faces more than 30 felony charges, had given prosecutors any information about Gaetz but said his client is "uniquely situated." Gaetz has not been charged with anything but has denied the reported accusations. Greenberg has incentive to help prosecutors: Conviction on his charges could send him to prison for years, per CNN. He's been jailed since March, per the New York Times, and did not appear in court Thursday. Gaetz's office did not comment on the hearing, but it released a statement from unnamed women who work for him. "At no time has any one of us experienced or witnessed anything less than the utmost professionalism and respect," it said. (Gaetz reportedly wanted Trump to pardon him.)