Gaetz 'wingman' set to plead guilty to trafficking a minor and agrees to cooperate with feds

This Monday, September 30, 2019, Joel Greenberg will speak to the Orlando Sentinel Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel on AP during an interview in his Lake Mary, Florida office

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A key figure in the federal investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz will plead guilty to six federal crimes, including trafficking in sex with a child, in a plea that could cause trouble for the Republican Congressman.

Under his contract with the federal prosecutor, Joel Greenberg, a former Florida county tax collector, also agreed to “cooperate fully with the United States in investigating and prosecuting others and giving testimony in future proceedings,” according to the court documents released on Friday filed in federal court in Orlando.

Along with the sex trafficking charge, Greenberg agreed to plead guilty of federal fraud, identifying theft, bribery and stalking charges. Prosecutors agreed to drop more than two dozen other criminal charges in exchange for his request. He must be in federal prison for at least 12 years and withhold $ 654,000 received from alleged wire fraud and bribery schemes.

A judge has yet to approve the deal. A hearing for Greenberg is scheduled for Monday in federal court in Orlando.

The 86-page plea agreement provides specific details on crimes Greenberg is expected to plead guilty to during this hearing, including spending $ 70,000 over 150 separate financial transactions to get women for sex, including minors, over a two-year period ending December 2018 to pay.

The plea deal is the latest sign that Gaetz could have serious legal problems. Federal agencies are investigating whether Gaetz had sex with the same 17-year-old girl who Greenberg is accused of trafficking in human beings. This probe emerged from the Greenberg case.

The deal with Greenberg, once referred to as Gaetz’s “wingman,” comes as the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Division continues to question Gaetz’s staff in connection with the lawmaker’s investigation into sex trafficking. For example, the authorities are discussing a possible immunity agreement with Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend, who may be aware of alleged misconduct related to Gaetz.

Gaetz has clearly denied all allegations made against him. The authorities have not charged him with any crime.

Legal experts say federal prosecutors would not have approved the deal if Greenberg didn’t have information to share.

“The government will not close a deal with an accused child trafficker unless it believes Greenberg can provide evidence leading to the persecution of someone who has committed worse offenses or a bigger fish – like a seated member of Congress “said Palm Beach County Attorney Dave Aronberg. Aronberg has no connection to Greenberg’s case.

Greenberg and his attorneys have been debating an immunity deal for months, but the results of those negotiations weren’t made public until Thursday when a court motion revealed that the former tax collector intended to change his innocent plea.

Among the charges Greenberg will plead guilty to is a false accusation made by a political rival, Brian Beute, of being a pedophile. The alleged false allegations against Prey sparked the first investigation against Greenberg.

The remaining charges Greenberg is expected to find guilty are a range of crimes related to public corruption, including misuse of public funds. Greenberg is accused of opening and depositing a bank account with tax collectors and using money from his agency to buy cryptocurrency. Greenberg also opened lines of credit through tax accounts to make “thousands of dollars” in personal purchases, including cryptocurrency, according to federal documents.

Regardless, the plea deal also includes Greenberg confirming that he paid $ 3,000 to a US Small Business Administration loan officer to help him obtain a loan through a government Covid-19 aid program.

On June 24, 2020, Greenberg’s first application for a loan under the objection agreement was approved. It was the day after the federal authorities arrested Greenberg.

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