“Joel Greenberg has now confessed to falsely accusing an innocent man of having sex with a minor,” said Harlan Hill, a Gaetz spokesman.
Republican lawmakers had previously said that it is Greenberg who has admitted the crime, tried to escape a long prison sentence, and also plead guilty of falsely accusing a political rival of being a pedophile.
The 84-page plea agreement that Greenberg officially signed in the US District Court does not mention Gaetz or anyone else by name. However, it is said that the victim of the sex trafficking had sex with “other men” when she was 17. Gaetz aside, sources close to the investigation are investigating that prosecutors are also investigating a former Greenberg employee in the Seminole District office, a co-conspirator, of Greenberg, who allegedly was involved in the fraud of a coronavirus relief fund, and of at least one Gaetz employee . The unindicted co-conspirator is mentioned, but not named, in one of the federal documents against Greenberg.
But it is Gaetz that prosecutors from the Department of Public Integrity of the Justice Department are investigating. The Department of Justice Department is dedicated to persecuting corrupt officials.
David Oscar Markus, a veteran federal defender unrelated to Greenberg’s case, said that although news reports indicate that authorities are investigating whether Gaetz is involved in the sex trafficking of minors, the appeal agreement contains very few details about the he suspects are due to a lack of clear and irrefutable evidence from Greenberg directly implicating Gaetz in the crime. Gaetz, for example, is not mentioned by name in Greenberg’s plea agreement.
Even though Greenberg apparently took a break from prosecutors by citing only six of 33 charges, he still faces the mandatory minimum sentence of 12 years.
“He’s looking at so much time that the only reason you’d plead guilty for something like this is because A, you have absolutely no defense, or B, you’re looking for the penalty of the century reduction,” said Marcus.
In a sign that Greenberg’s cooperation is probably not enough to take action against Gaetz, the federal prosecutors are holding talks about an immunity agreement with his former girlfriend, who is seeking their cooperation. She has not spoken to investigators personally and her lawyer, Tim Jansen, has declined to comment on alleged crimes of the congressman.
The victim’s testimony would also be crucial, and a source familiar with the investigation said she speaks 100 percent to prosecutors, but the nature of that testimony is unclear.
What makes Greenberg’s case so unusual are the crimes he committed and found guilty, which makes him one of the most corrupt Florida politicians of all time. In total, there are five different categories of crimes that Greenberg is guilty of, which can be found in different sections of federal law: minor sex trafficking, stalking, identity theft, federal taxpayer fraud, and rip-off of local taxpayers in a cryptocurrency scheme.
The plea agreement was so long that on Monday the federal judge had to pause at times to flip the pages repeatedly to find the correct section of the agreement that had a socially distant crowd due to coronavirus social distancing rules.
Greenberg, with a blue surgical mask on his face, replied in clipped answers to the questions in which he admitted his guilt: Yes, no, I do. The hearing lasted approximately 45 minutes.
Greenberg first met the sex trafficking victim on a “sugar babies” website for “sugar fathers” according to the informed consent and confirmed an earlier POLITICO report on the SeekingArrangement website. According to the plea, Greenberg explicitly paid her for sex at least seven times after meeting her on April 24, 2017.
On September 4 of that year, Greenberg illegally accessed her driver’s license files after telling him that she was a minor. Three sources report to POLITICO that the victim mistakenly applied on the SeekingArrangement website when she was 19. Under federal law, a person who pays for sex with anyone under the age of 18 cannot bring the defense they believed to be of legal age even if they presented fake ID, according to lawyers familiar with the law.
Greenberg, who paid a total of $ 70,000 for sex with various women he met through the website, insisted they take the drug MDMA with them and pay extra for it, the informed consent statement said.
Greenberg told others that the victim was a minor and that no one had sexual relations with her after the date he accessed her ID. But during that four month and eleven day period, others are suspected of having sex with her when she was a minor – a small window of time for prosecutors to find illegal activities by Gaetz or others.
After his arrest, Greenberg tried to make the victim lie, the plea said.
“Greenberg contacted the minor directly and through a friend of the minor to ask the minor to lie and say that the reason Greenberg looked up the minor in the minor [driver license] The system was because the minor had asked him, which Greenberg knew was not true, ”the plea said. “Greenberg also asked the minor for help making sure her stories were reconciled, knowing that his commercial sex acts with her were illegal.”
The political rival Greenberg falsely accused of being a pedophile, a teacher named Brian Beute, held a press conference ahead of the Orlando federal court hearing thanking the federal government and an investigator at the local sheriff’s department. However, he accused local prosecutors and state officials of failing to act earlier to investigate and indict Greenberg on a number of other shortcomings and crimes that became apparent almost immediately after he took office in early 2017.
“The Florida state oversight system was either complicit or unable to oversee the Seminole County’s tax collector’s office. Why? Who is responsible for this failure?” Said Beute, who falsely accused Greenberg immediately after Beute announced his offer in 2019 turn off compatriot republican.
After his plea, Greenberg has to register as a sex offender – a remarkable twist just two years after accusing Prey of having sex with girls.
When asked if he thought Greenberg was a liar, Beute refused and said he did not know the man. When asked again about Greenberg’s trustworthiness, he didn’t move much.
“We’re here today,” he said. “Why are we here today?”