Joel Greenberg, a former county tax collector and associate of Congressman Matt Gaetz, pleaded guilty Monday morning to six criminal charges, including sex trafficking with a child.
Greenberg appeared Monday in federal court in Orlando, Florida, for a change of plea hearing after working for weeks toward the deal with federal prosecutors whose investigation focuses on sex trafficking and public corruption allegations.
His plea agreement with the federal government includes a clause stipulating he'll "cooperate fully in the investigation and prosecution of other persons," CBS reports.
Court documents from the Middle District of Florida show that among the charges Greenberg has pleaded guilty to are sex trafficking of a child, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and stalking.
Under the deal, Greenberg is ordered to pay restitution to the minor involved in the indictment, Seminole County, and the Seminole County Tax Collector's Office, among others. He is also required to forfeit assets totaling up to at least $654,799.95 for funds he obtained through the acts he is pleading guilty to.
Another stipulation of Greenberg's plea agreement is that he will fully cooperate with the U.S. in its investigation and prosecution of others. He will also be required to testify and disclose "relevant information."
The remaining 27 charges will be dismissed if the court accepts the plea deal, though should Greenberg, at any point, stop cooperating or knowingly provide false information that portion of the deal is off the table.
Greenberg will also register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, court documents show.
According to the Department of Justice, Greenberg faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, and up to, life in prison for the sex trafficking of a child charge and two years for aggravated identity theft.
The plea agreement thoroughly details the crimes Greenberg is admitting to, including the "commercial sex acts" which have made headlines the last few months.
In the court documents, Greenberg admits to being involved in "sugar daddy" relationships where he paid for sex with women and then attempted to disguise them as "school-related" or other living expenses.
According to the plea agreement, the most commonly used labels on payments through Greenberg's Venmo account were "school," "food," and "ice cream."
While on a website to find women, the 86-page document states Greenberg used personal accounts and an account belonging to the Seminole County Tax Collector's Office to conduct more than 150 transactions totaling to more than $70,000 for commercial sex.
One of those women was a minor, documents show. Greenberg is reported to have contacted her at times through Snapchat and engaged in sex with her as a minor on at least seven occasions. Some of those encounters happened at Florida hotels and included the minor in sexual acts with other men, according to the plea agreement.
None of the other individuals who Greenberg admitted to being involved in sexual acts with the minor were named.
Once Greenberg learned of the federal investigation, he was said to have contacted the minor to get their stories lined up "because he knew that his commercial sex acts with her were illegal."
Other offenses admitted to by Greenberg in court documents include using another individual's information to make a fake driver's license for himself, stealing surrendered driver's licenses, fraudulently acquiring cryptocurrency with credit cards obtained in the tax collector's office's name, and using a Small Business Administration employee to obtain $432,700 in false loans under the CARES Act.
A separate stalking charge comes from a 2019 investigation where Greenberg was arrested and admitted to making fake social media accounts and writing fake letters to the school of a teacher who was running against him for his position as tax collector, documents show.
The letters, signed by a nonexistent “very concerned student,” accused the teacher of having an inappropriate and sexual relationship with an anonymous student, who was really Greenberg, according to court documents.
Greenberg also made the teacher a fake Twitter profile to post racially motivated messages online, the plea deal shows.
Investigators say they found his DNA and fingerprints on the letters filled with false accusations and that they were able to identify Greenberg's address as the location where the fake social media accounts were established and used.
Congressman Matt Gaetz was not mentioned in the plea agreement or during the court hearing, but the plea potentially escalates the legal and political jeopardy he is facing and signals that Greenberg could potentially serve as a witness in the Justice Department’s investigation into his former associate.
Federal prosecutors are examining whether Gaetz paid underage girls or offered them gifts in exchange for sex, according to people familiar with the matter. Gaetz has vehemently denied the allegations and any wrongdoing and insists he will not resign his seat in Congress.
Investigators have also been looking at whether Gaetz and his associates tried to secure government jobs for some of the women, the people said. They are scrutinizing Gaetz’s connections to the medical marijuana sector, including whether his associates sought to influence legislation Gaetz sponsored.
Greenberg was charged in August with sex trafficking a girl between ages 14 and 17 and using a state database to look up information about the girl and other people with whom he was engaged in “sugar daddy” relationships, according to the indictment.
Charges on allegations he embezzled $400,000 from the Seminole County tax collector’s office were added last month, according to the indictment.
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