Gaetz’s associate Joel Greenberg will plead guilty to six counts as part of a plea deal.
The charges include sex trafficking, electronic fraud and identity theft.
Lawyers for Greenberg and federal prosecutors will officially announce the plea deal to a judge on Monday.
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Former Florida County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg will plead guilty to six counts, including sex trafficking, identity theft and wire fraud, a significant downgrade from the 33 federal charges he is facing. faced multiple indictments, Insider learned.
Greenberg is due in court Monday morning to formalize the plea deal with Department of Justice prosecutors, who are investigating whether he and Florida Representative Matt Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws. A judge will have to sign the agreement before it is finalized.
Orlando federal prosecutors initially indicted Greenberg in June 2020; after a series of alternate indictments, the total of 33 crimes touched on everything from sex trafficking to stalking and cryptocurrency fraud.
But a source close to the plea deal said the former Seminole County tax collector would now admit six of the charges.
The plea agreement should include standard language that Greenberg must cooperate fully with the U.S. government in his case and any other related matter. This potentially means testifying in court or before a federal grand jury in the event of a trial. This could be bad news for Gaetz, a GOP congressman and longtime Trump loyalist.
Greenberg’s cooperation with the federal government is well known. When news of his client’s plea deal broke in April, Greenberg’s attorney Fritz Scheller told reporters: “I’m sure Matt Gaetz doesn’t feel very comfortable today. hui. “
Read more: Matt Gaetz receives warnings he shouldn’t feel ‘very comfortable’ from goatee Florida lawyer who likes to quote the Dalai Lama
Legal experts told Insider that prosecutors’ decision to lower the charges suggests he has information of significant value.
“His cooperation requires him to provide truthful testimony and to provide it at the request of the government,” said David Weinstein, former assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida. He told Insider that Greenberg’s plea deal would also be important because it could mean he would testify before a grand jury if Gaetz is charged with a felony and goes to trial.
Prosecutors have notably accused Greenberg of committing sex trafficking of a minor aged 14 to 17. Gaetz is also believed to have had sex with the same person, who was 17 at the time of the alleged encounters. in 2019.
Cooperates since the end of 2020
Greenberg had been cooperating with federal authorities in the case against Gaetz since last year, The New York Times reported in April. He said he gave investigators information on a “range of topics,” according to the report, including telling them that he and Gaetz had interactions with women who received money and gifts in exchange for sex. .
According to The Daily Beast, Greenberg also admitted in a recent letter that Gaetz paid for sex with a minor. Greenberg sent the letter to longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone during the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency in a last-ditch attempt to secure a pardon.
“Every now and then money or gifts for gasoline, rent payments or partial school fees were paid to several of these girls, including the one who was not yet 18 years old. I saw the acts happen firsthand and the Venmo transactions, the Cash app, or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the congressman, ”Greenberg said in the letter, according to the report.
The outlet also reported earlier that Gaetz sent Greenberg a Venmo payment of $ 900 in 2018. The next day, Greenberg sent three women various sums of money totaling $ 900 using the same app.
This week’s latest developments come days after CNN reported that federal investigators were also seeking the cooperation of a former Capitol Hill intern who used to date Gaetz. The intern did not work in Gaetz’s office.
Gaetz, who has not been charged with a felony, vehemently denied the allegations against him and insisted that the Justice Department’s investigation was part of a complex extortion scheme by several million dollars against him and his family.
Joel Greenberg’s first indictment alleges that he falsely accused another man of having sex with a minor for his own gain. This man was apparently innocent. The same is true of the congressman Gaetz, “said Harlan Hill, spokesperson for the legislature. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gaetz hired legal representation amid the growing investigation, and his office released a statement in early April from unnamed staff in his office, insisting their boss “has always been a principled and morally grounded leader ”.
Read more: In Matt Gaetz’s office, where surprises – from the boss’s TV makeup to cleaning up after messy controversies – are part of the job
This is not exactly the full picture of Capitol Hill. Also in April, Insider reported that Gaetz was forcing his staff to do their hair and makeup before the TV came on and he would get “furious” if too few people show up at his events. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, called for Gaetz’s resignation.
Sherine Ebadi, a former FBI agent who was the chief agent in the government’s case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, told Insider Greenberg’s cooperation would be a nightmare scenario for Gaetz .
“What would worry Gaetz is if there is a cooperation agreement in this case which involves the defendant turning on him,” she said. “It gets scary for the co-conspirators because they know that someone who is either aware of their crimes or someone they co-conspired with is now working with the government.”
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