Gaetz Ally Admits Sex Trafficking

Taking prosecutors' deal, Joel Greenberg enters 6 guilty pleas
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2021 5:10 PM CDT
Gaetz Ally Admits Sex Trafficking
Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg is interviewed in his office in 2019.   (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

Joel Greenberg, the former county tax collector at the center of a federal sex trafficking investigation along with Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, took prosecutors' plea deal Monday, admitting to six federal crimes. Changing his pleas from "not guilty" reduced the number of federal counts Greenberg faced from 33, the Hill reports. One of the charges he pleaded guilty to is sex trafficking of a minor. In the agreement he signed Friday, Greenberg admitted that he "introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts" with her. The agreement does not name Gaetz, per WESH, but Greenberg reportedly told investigators that Gaetz was one of the men. Greenberg's acceptance of the plea deal means he could become a witness in the investigation of the Florida congressman. His other guilty pleas Monday were to production of false identification, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, stalking, and conspiracy to commit an offense against the US.

A spokesperson for Gaetz, who has not been charged with any crimes and has denied all accusations, said Monday that "Joel Greenberg has now confessed to falsely accusing an innocent man of having sex with a minor." The former Seminole County tax collector said little more than "Yes" and "I do" to the judge during the Florida court hearing. Afterward, his lawyer, Fritz Scheller, told reporters: "He's on the path towards rehabilitation and he has a great deal of remorse. I think he's feeling a sense of acceptance." In addition to cooperating with prosecutors by testifying in cases involving the federal investigation, Greenberg has agreed to turn over all documents that could help the case, per CNN. The sex trafficking conviction brings a minimum 10-year sentence, but prosecutors said that could be reduced if Greenberg helps them enough. (Read more Joel Greenberg stories.)

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