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Judge grants sentence delay for cooperating Gaetz associate

Joel Greenberg's cooperation could play a role in an ongoing investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz's supposed pay-for-sex relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this April 14, 2021 file photo, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., questions witness during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A federal judge agreed Wednesday to delay the sentencing of a key associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida so he can keep cooperating in a broader sex trafficking investigation.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell rescheduled for Nov. 18 the sentencing date for Joel Greenberg. He had been set for sentencing Aug. 19.

Greenberg pleaded guilty in May to sex trafficking of a minor and five other charges, among the nearly three dozen he faced. His plea agreement with prosecutors requires continued cooperation with the ongoing probe.

Defense attorney Fritz Scheller said the additional three months are crucial to finish Greenberg's cooperation with investigators.

“Said cooperation, which could impact his ultimate sentence, cannot be completed by the time of his sentencing,” Scheller wrote.

Greenberg, the former Seminole County tax collector, currently faces an estimated 12 years in prison, his lawyer noted. Greenberg, 36, also pleaded guilty to identity theft, wire fraud and conspiracy.

Gaetz, a Republican who represents much of the Florida Panhandle, was not mentioned in Greenberg's plea agreement. But Greenberg's cooperation could play a role in an ongoing investigation into Gaetz's supposed pay-for-sex relationship with a 17-year-old girl.

While not mentioning Gaetz by name, in his plea deal Greenberg said he “introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts.”

Gaetz, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, has denied any allegations of wrongdoing and has said repeatedly he will not resign from Congress. No charges have been brought against Gaetz.

Greenberg has been linked to a number of other Florida politicians and their associates. So far, none of them have been implicated by name in the sex trafficking probe.

Credit: Seminole County Sheriff's Office

The Greenberg plea agreement says that he admitted being “involved in what are sometimes referred to as ‘sugar daddy’ relationships where he paid women for sex, but attempted to disguise the payments as ‘school-related’ expenses or other living expenses."