Gaetz associate to cooperate with investigation, plead guilty to child sex trafficking
An associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who is embroiled in a federal sex trafficking investigation, will plead guilty to six charges in connection with the probe and cooperate with authorities, new court documents show.
An agreement filed in a Florida federal court Friday showed that former tax collector Joel Greenberg said he will help investigators as they continue their criminal probe. He also pleaded guilty to charges including child sex trafficking.
The sex trafficking charge carries a sentencing range of 10 years to life in prison. Under the agreement, if federal prosecutors are satisfied with Greenberg’s cooperation in the investigation, they will recommend a more lenient sentence than what they would normally propose under federal sentencing guidelines.
A hearing for Greenberg is scheduled for Monday.
The news comes after Greenberg was initially hit with 33 charges related to the investigation.
Greenberg admitted in Friday’s filing to paying for commercial sex acts, and being involved in “sugar daddy” relationships where he paid women for sex but disguised the purchase as “school-related expenses.”
The former Gaetz confidant also said he paid over $70,000 for sex in over 150 financial transactions from four bank accounts — one of which was an American Express account tied to the tax collector’s office.
Further, Greenberg admitted to paying a minor to “engage in commercial sex acts” and said he introduced the minor to “other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts with the minor.” The men were not named in the court filing.
The former official has become a focus of attention after it was first reported that investigators were looking into whether Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old girl, among other violations related to sex trafficking.
“Congressman Gaetz doesn’t seem to be named nor referenced in Mr. Greenberg’s plea. Congressman Gaetz has never had sex with a minor and has never paid for sex,” Harland Hill, a spokesperson for the Florida Republican, said in a statement. “Mr. Greenberg has now plead guilty to falsely accusing someone else of sex with a minor. That person was innocent. So is Congressman Gaetz.”
Greenberg had reportedly been cooperating with authorities in the investigation against Gaetz, telling them he that the Trump ally had given multiple women money and gifts and exchange for sex.
Greenberg reportedly decided to cooperate after being presented with the overwhelming evidence against him.
The House Ethics Committee has launched an investigation into Gaetz.
Updated at 5:04 p.m.