Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg requested for his sentencing to be pushed back by 90 days so he can continue to help prosecutors out

Joel Greenberg
Joel Greenberg as pictured on Seminole County’s website. He served as a tax collector in the county before his indictment in 2020

  • Joel Greenberg, a long-time Gaetz associate, is requesting for his sentencing date to be pushed back by 90 days.
  • Greenberg pleaded guilty in May to six criminal charges, including sex trafficking.
  • He is now asking for more time to cooperate with prosecutors before his August 19 sentencing.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Joel Greenberg, a long-time associate of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, is asking for more time before his sentencing so he can finish passing information to federal prosecutors.

Greenberg, a former tax collector in Seminole County, Florida, asked in a court motion for his August 19 sentencing date to be pushed back by 90 days because his collaborations with prosecutors have not been wrapped up yet.

“Mr. Greenberg has been cooperating with the government and has participated in a series of proffers. Said cooperation, which could impact his ultimate sentence, cannot be completed prior to the time of his sentencing,” wrote Greenberg’s lawyer Fritz Scheller, in the motion filed on July 6.

“The parties expect that Mr. Greenberg will participate in additional proffers, and a continuance would provide Mr. Greenberg with additional time to do so prior to his sentencing,” Scheller added.

Insider has reached out to Scheller for further comment.

Per the motion, Greenberg’s request to delay his sentencing date was unopposed by the case’s prosecutors.

Greenberg pleaded guilty on May 17 to six criminal charges, including sex trafficking, wire fraud, identity theft, stalking, and conspiracy, per Insider’s Sonam Sheth.

The motion filed on July 6 indicates that Greenberg faces a jail term of at least 12 years for these charges.

Greenberg is now cooperating with the authorities on multiple cases, and Scheller also teased that his client had information that could “hurt an elected official.”

Rumors have swirled that Gaetz might be implicated in the Greenberg investigations. This speculation intensified particularly after it came to light that the Florida lawmaker sent multiple amounts of cash via Venmo to Greenberg, one of which was labeled with a “love hotel emoji.” Greenberg then sent the cash payments on to young women with labels like “Ass,” “Stuff,” “Tuition,” and “School.”

Gaetz himself is being probed by the FBI and the Department of Justice on whether he broke sex trafficking laws and had sexual relations with a minor. The congressman has denied all wrongdoing.

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Matt Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend to cooperate with federal authorities in sex-trafficking probe, CNN reports

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., takes a question from reporters outside a closed door meeting where Catherine Croft, a State Department adviser on Ukraine, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper testify as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019.

  • A former Capitol Hill staffer who used to date Matt Gaetz is cooperating with authorities, CNN reported.
  • His ex-girlfriend is expected to help investigators make sense of hundreds of transaction records, CNN reported.
  • Gaetz’s lawyers told Insider they are “ready for a fair fight on the facts and the law.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The ex-girlfriend of Rep. Matt Gaetz will cooperate with federal authorities who are investigating the Florida lawmaker, sources told CNN.

The news comes days after Joel Greenberg, a former Gaetz ally and Florida county tax collector, formally pleaded guilty to six felony counts and agreed to cooperate with the US government in its investigation into Gaetz.

Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend, a former Capitol Hill staffer has been linked to the Republican since at least the summer of 2017 – an apparent time period of interest for investigators. According to CNN, the woman is expected to help prosecutors understand hundreds of transactions they’ve obtained records of.

Investigators have been pushing for the woman’s agreement since earlier this month, CNN reported. Sources did not share with CNN if there is a formal agreement to cooperate.

Gaetz has not been charged with any crime. Investigators from the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for months have been investigating whether he had a sexual relationship with a minor and broke federal sex trafficking, prostitution, and public corruption laws.

“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,” Harlan Hill, a Gaetz spokesperson told Insider. “Mr. Greenberg has now pleaded guilty to falsely accusing someone else of sex with a minor. That person was innocent. So is Congressman Gaetz.”

Neither the ex-girlfriend’s lawyer, Timothy Jansen, nor the Department of Justice immediately responded to Insider’s request for comment.

Gaetz’s lawyers, Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner told Insider leaks by anonymous sources have compromised the integrity of the investigation.

“We’re ready for a fair fight on the facts and the law. Anywhere. Anytime,” the lawyers said. “But the steady stream of leaks by anonymous sources undermines the integrity of this process. It is simply and unequivocally improper.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Newly revealed text messages shed light on how Matt Gaetz’s wingman could bring about his downfall

matt gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz.

  • Rep. Matt Gaetz’s office has repeatedly skewered the credibility of his former wingman, Joel Greenberg, who pleaded guilty to 6 felony counts.
  • But newly revealed text messages show that Greenberg may have receipts to back up his allegations against Gaetz.
  • “I would not feel really comfortable if I was anyone that had committed a crime with [Greenberg] right now,” one former FBI agent told Insider.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Since it surfaced that Rep. Matt Gaetz’s former wingman Joel Greenberg is cooperating with prosecutors in a wide-ranging sex-trafficking investigation, Gaetz has zeroed in on skewering Greenberg’s credibility as a witness for the government.

But on Friday, a Daily Beast report indicated that Greenberg may have receipts to back up his claims.

“This is not good news for Matt Gaetz,” Sherine Ebadi, a former FBI agent who served as the lead agent in the government’s case against the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, told Insider.

The text messages detailed in the story do not feature Gaetz; they were between Greenberg and his friend Joe Ellicott, who previously worked for Greenberg when he was a Florida tax collector.

According to the report, the texts were exchanged on the encrypted messaging app Signal and with a disappearing time of 30 seconds. But Greenberg took screenshots of the messages, in which he and Ellicott expressed fear that they and others in their circle could face criminal charges for having sex with a minor. Ellicott has not been charged with a crime and did not respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.

Although Gaetz was not a participant in the conversations outlined in the story, legal experts say the existence of the screenshots themselves could spell trouble for the embattled lawmaker as he continues to cast doubt on Greenberg.

“If Greenberg has texts between himself and Ellicott, it’s certainly feasible he has other evidence and was savvy enough to take screenshots of those texts,” Ebadi said. “It seems to follow that he may have kept all the evidence that he may have needed to use for leverage. I would not feel really comfortable if I was anyone that had committed a crime with him right now, because he’s kept files on people, potentially, which could be very damning and very useful to prosecutors.”

Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the Justice Department, echoed that view.

“Looks like Greenberg had more foresight than the congressman,” he told Insider, adding that the fact that Greenberg kept records of his conversations “absolutely bolsters his credibility.”

Gaetz has not been charged with a crime and has denied any wrongdoing. His spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on this story.

It’s routine practice for investigators to search for additional evidence – like electronic records, emails, and financial documents – to corroborate witness testimony. That’s especially true for a witness like Greenberg, who was charged with nearly three dozen felonies and pleaded guilty earlier this week to six of those counts, including carrying out the sex-trafficking of a child.

“The fact that Greenberg has screenshots of his conversations with someone else, in which they talked about their unlawful activities, that certainly helps his credibility with the feds,” Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor who worked on drug and human-trafficking cases, told Insider.

“This is an admitted felon and someone who’s going to be a convicted sex offender. Prosecutors have to make sure that he’s cooperating and being truthful, not just saying what they want to hear to get a reduced jail sentence,” he added.

As far as the text screenshots go, Ebadi said, “it makes Greenberg’s statements more credible when he has proof.”

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz at a rally against Rep. Liz Cheney on January 28, 2021 in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

‘The way you work your way up to the bigger fish is that you cooperate up’

The investigation into Gaetz centers around whether he violated federal sex-trafficking laws. According to The New York Times, he’s suspected of having had sex with someone who was 17 years old at the time of their alleged encounters in 2019. That same individual was involved in the sex-trafficking count against Greenberg.

The Daily Beast previously reported that Greenberg also put it in writing that he and Gaetz had paid for sex with a minor. Greenberg sent the letter to the longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone in a last-ditch bid to obtain a pardon from President Donald Trump in the weeks before he left office in January. And as he did with Ellicott, Greenberg also took screenshots of his conversations with Stone, who is himself a convicted felon.

Ellicott’s name surfaced recently after Politico reported that he was named in a federal grand jury subpoena that investigators sent to another individual.

Along with Ellicott, the subpoena mentioned Gaetz, Greenberg, and former Florida state Rep. Halsey Beshears, who knew Gaetz from their time in the Florida statehouse. Beshears also traveled with Gaetz to the Bahamas in 2018, a trip that investigators are scrutinizing as part of their sex-trafficking probe.

“The way you work your way up to the bigger fish is that you cooperate up,” Ebadi said. “So the feds got Greenberg and they could have cooperated him against Ellicott. If they get Ellicott, they might use him to get to Beshears, who they could use, in turn, to get to Gaetz. Taking that sort of path up would not be abnormal at all, and I think it’s fairly reasonable.”

Flipping witnesses to testify against someone higher up in importance is a standard prosecutorial tactic. And if a case like this ends up going to trial, Ebadi said, “when all these people are saying the same thing, that’s a lot more powerful, believable testimony than just that of one cooperator who’s a convicted felon.”

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Witnesses said Matt Gaetz snorted cocaine and had sex with an escort who was paid with campaign money, report says

matt gaetz
  • Matt Gaetz reportedly snorted cocaine with a female escort at a hotel party in 2019, The Daily Beast reported.
  • The Florida congressman reportedly wrote off the hotel stay as a campain expense.
  • Gaetz faces a Justice Department investigation into whether he violated federal sex-trafficking laws.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Witnesses said Rep. Matt Gaetz snorted cocaine and had sex with an escort who was paid with campaign money, The Daily Beast reported Friday.

In late October 2019, Gaetz headlined as a featured speaker at the “Trump Defender Gala” fundraiser, hosted by the Westgate Lake Resort in Orlando, Florida. At an afterparty in Gaetz’s room following the event, witnesses told The Daily Beast that a woman named Megan Zalonka brought and prepared lines of cocaine on the bathroom counter.

The Florida congressman wrote off the hotel stay as a campaign expense, The Beast reported. Two sources also told The Beast that Gaetz and Zalonka, who worked as a paid escort and amateur Instagram model according to the report, had an ongoing paid relationship in exchange for sex.

“She was just one of the many pieces of arm candy he had,” one source familiar with their relationship told The Beast.

Zalonka was also associated with Joel Greenberg, a former Florida county tax collector and one-time wingman of Gaetz. According to The Beast report, her relationship with Greenberg turned into a “no-show” job funded by taxpayer dollars that earned her $7,000 to $17,500, three sources told the news outlet and corroborated by corresponding government records obtained by The Beast.

Greenberg is expected to plead guilty on Monday to six felony counts including sex trafficking, wire fraud, identity theft, stalking, and conspiracy as first reported by Insider. The Beast reported that Greenberg “will identify that escort to investigators as one of more than 15 young women Gaetz paid for sex, according to a source familiar with the investigation.”

Representatives for Gaetz’s office nor the Logan Circle Group, the public relations firm Gaetz hired, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

In a statement to The Beast, the Logan Circle Group said the congressman “won’t be commenting on whether he dated or didn’t date specific women. The privacy of women living private lives should be protected.”

An attorney for Zalonka said the allegations of the witnesses in The Beast report were not “accurate” and that Zalonka “is not speaking to any media outlet.”

The news that Greenberg would plead guilty marks a major development in his case, which dates back to June 2020 when he was arraigned on federal charges, prompting him to resign from his elected position as tax collector for Florida’s Seminole County. The charges Greenberg will plead guilty to are a significant downgrade from the 33 felonies he was initially charged with prior to striking a deal to cooperate with prosecutors.

The development likely ramps up pressure on Gaetz, who has not been charged with any crime, but who faces a Justice Department investigation into whether he violated federal sex-trafficking laws.

Legal experts told Insider that prosecutors decision to reduce Greenberg’s charges suggests he has information of significant value.

The Gaetz investigation is reportedly looking into whether the Florida congressman used campaign money to fund travel for women. Investigators are said to be scrutinizing Gaetz and Greenberg’s interactions with “multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments,” according to The New York Times.

Prosecutors are also said to be investigating a Bahamas trip Gaetz reportedly took in late 2018 or early 2019 with a hand surgeon and marijuana entrepreneur as part of the inquiry into whether Gaetz broke sex trafficking laws, CBS News reported last month. Gaetz’s two cruise compatriots allegedly paid for the crew’s travel expenses and accommodations, as well as female sex workers.

Early last month, The Daily Beast reported that in 2018 Gaetz had sent $900 to Greenberg over Venmo, who then sent that same total, in various amounts, to three young women. Then, earlier this week, CNN reported that in addition to Greenberg, federal investigators are also seeking cooperation from a former Capitol Hill intern who used to date Gaetz but did not work in his office.

Gaetz has continued to deny the allegations against him, insisting the Justice Department’s investigation is part of an extortion scheme against him and his family members.

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Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg will plead guilty to 6 felony counts including sex trafficking, wire fraud, and identity theft

Joel Greenberg
Joel Greenberg as pictured on Seminole County’s website. He served as a tax collector in the county before his indictment in 2020.

  • The Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg plans to plead guilty to six felony counts in a plea deal.
  • The charges include sex trafficking, wire fraud, and identity theft.
  • Greenberg’s attorneys and federal prosecutors will formally announce the plea to a judge Monday.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The former Florida county tax collector Joel Greenberg will plead guilty to six felony counts including sex trafficking, identity theft, and wire fraud, a significant downgrade from the 33 federal charges he was facing through multiple indictments, Insider has learned.

Greenberg is scheduled to appear in court Monday morning to formalize the plea agreement with Justice Department prosecutors, who are investigating whether he and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida violated federal sex-trafficking laws. A judge will have to sign off on the agreement before it is finalized.

Federal prosecutors in Orlando, Florida, initially charged Greenberg in June 2020; after a series of superseding indictments, the total hit 33 felony counts as varied as sex trafficking, stalking, and cryptocurrency fraud.

But a source familiar with the plea deal said the former Seminole County tax collector would admit to six of those charges.

The plea deal is expected to include standard language that Greenberg must cooperate fully with the US government in his case and any other related matters. That could mean testifying in court or before a federal grand jury in the event of a trial. That could be bad news for Gaetz, a GOP congressman and Trump loyalist.

Greenberg’s cooperation with the federal government has been widely known. When news broke in April that his client seemed interested in plea deal, Greenberg’s attorney Fritz Scheller told reporters, “I’m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.”

Read more: Matt Gaetz is getting warnings he shouldn’t feel ‘very comfortable’ from a goateed Florida lawyer who likes to quote the Dalai Lama

Legal experts told Insider the prosecutors’ decision to whittle the charges down suggested he had information of significant value.

“His cooperation requires him to be providing truthful testimony and to provide it at the government’s request,” said David Weinstein, a former assistant US attorney for the Southern District of Florida. He told Insider that Greenberg’s plea agreement would also be significant because it could mean he’d testify in front of a grand jury should Gaetz be charged with a crime and go to trial.

Prosecutors accused Greenberg, among other things, of carrying out the sex trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17. Gaetz is also suspected of having had a sexual relationship with the same person, who was 17 at the time of the alleged encounters in 2019.

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Cooperating since late 2020

Greenberg had been cooperating since last year with federal authorities in the case against Gaetz, The New York Times reported in April. He’s said to have given investigators information about an “array of topics,” according to the report, including telling them that he and Gaetz had interactions with women who were given cash and gifts in exchange for sex.

According to The Daily Beast, Greenberg also said in a recent letter that Gaetz paid for sex with a minor. Greenberg is said to have sent the letter to the longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone in the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency in a last-ditch bid to obtain a pardon.

“From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18. I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, 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 media outlet also reported earlier that Gaetz sent Greenberg a Venmo payment of $900 in 2018. The following day, Greenberg sent three women various sums of money that totaled $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 crime, has vehemently denied the allegations against him and insisted the Justice Department’s investigation is part of an elaborate, multimillion-dollar extortion scheme against him and his family.

“The first indictment of Joel Greenberg alleges that he falsely accused another man of sex with a minor for his own gain. That man was apparently innocent. So is Congressman Gaetz,” said Harlan Hill, a spokesman for the lawmaker. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gaetz has hired legal representation amid the growing investigation, and his office released a statement in early April from unnamed female staffers in his office insisting their boss “has always been a principled and morally grounded leader.”

Read more: Inside Matt Gaetz’s office, where surprises – from doing the boss’ TV makeup to cleaning up after messy controversies – are part of the job

That’s not exactly the full picture on Capitol Hill. Also in April, Insider reported Gaetz made his staff members do his hair and makeup before TV hits and got “irate” if too few people showed up at his events. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican of Illinois, has called for Gaetz’s resignation.

Sherine Ebadi, a former FBI agent who served as the lead agent in the government’s case against the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, told Insider that Greenberg’s cooperation would be a nightmare scenario for Gaetz.

“What Gaetz would be concerned about is if there’s a cooperation agreement in this matter that involves the defendant flipping on him,” she said. “That gets scary for coconspirators because they know someone who’s either aware of their crimes or someone they coconspired with is now working with the government.”

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Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg is expected to strike a plea deal to cooperate with prosecutors next week

matt gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz.

  • Joel Greenberg, an associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz, will reportedly strike a formal plea deal Monday.
  • Greenberg had already been cooperating against Gaetz for a year, the NYT previously reported.
  • Both men are the targets of a federal criminal sex-trafficking investigation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Joel Greenberg, a close associate of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, is expected to strike a formal plea deal with prosecutors on Monday, CNN reported.

It’s a significant development and one that will likely tighten the screws on Gaetz as he faces a Justice Department investigation into whether he violated federal sex-trafficking laws.

News of Greenberg’s upcoming plea deal isn’t entirely unexpected. The New York Times reported last month that he’s been cooperating with prosecutors since last year. Greenberg is said to have given investigators information about an “array of topics,” according to the report, including telling them that he and Gaetz had interactions with women who were given cash and gifts in exchange for sex.

Greenberg’s defense attorneys and prosecutors also told a judge earlier in April that they were on the cusp of reaching a plea deal.

It’s unclear what the terms of the agreement would be, but Greenberg’s lawyer Fritz Scheller hinted that his client was cooperating with prosecutors, telling reporters after the hearing, “I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.”

Based on media reporting about the Gaetz inquiry, prosecutors most likely have a large trail of breadcrumbs to follow as they work to corroborate the allegations against the GOP lawmaker.

The investigation is said to be looking into whether he used campaign money to fund travel for women, and The Times reported investigators were scrutinizing Gaetz and Greenberg’s interactions with “multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments.”

CBS News reported that prosecutors were also zeroing in on a trip Gaetz took to the Bahamas in late 2018 or early 2019 with a hand surgeon and marijuana entrepreneur who is accused of footing the bill for female sex workers, hotel rooms, and travel expenses. And The Daily Beast reported that Gaetz sent Greenberg $900 via Venmo in 2018 and that Greenberg then sent $900, in varying amounts, to three young women.

Gaetz’s spokesperson previously told Insider, “Congressman Gaetz has never paid for sex,” adding that “it seems Mr. Greenberg has been trying to ensnare innocent people in his troubles for quite some time.”

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Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg said in a letter that Gaetz paid for sex with a minor

matt gaetz
Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz

  • Matt Gaetz’s associate, Joel Greenberg, said in a letter obtained by The Daily Beast that Gaetz paid for sex with a minor.
  • Gaetz is under a federal criminal investigation over whether he broke sex trafficking laws.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz paid to have sex with a minor, his longtime associate Joel Greenberg said in a letter obtained by The Daily Beast.

“On more than one occasion, this individual was involved in sexual activities with several of the other girls, the congressman from Florida’s 1st Congressional District and myself,” Greenberg said in the letter, referring to an individual who was 17 years old at the time of the alleged encounter with Gaetz, according to The Daily Beast. “From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18. I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App, or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman.”

Insider could not immediately verify the letter.

The Justice Department has been investigating since last year whether Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws and engaged in a sexual relationship with a minor. The investigation into him stems from a broader inquiry into the former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, a close associate of Gaetz’s who was indicted on 33 felony counts, including carrying out the sex trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17. Greenberg previously pleaded not guilty.

Read more: We spoke with 21 of Matt Gaetz’s high-school classmates. Some say they could have predicted the congressman’s sex scandal.

Both Gaetz and his father have confirmed the existence of the investigation. Greenberg, meanwhile, appears to be close to striking a plea deal with prosecutors, and The New York Times reported that he’s been cooperating with investigators since last year.

Politico reported that the feds also obtained a search warrant and seized Gaetz’s iPhone in December. The report said Gaetz changed his phone number last year and that investigators also seized his former girlfriend’s phone in November.

Gaetz has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct and wrongdoing, and his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The letter obtained by The Daily Beast was written as part of Greenberg’s pleas to Roger Stone to help him secure a pardon from President Donald Trump. The outlet also obtained communications between Greenberg and Stone, a longtime Republican operative who had his prison sentence commuted by Trump.

According to the exchanges, Greenberg offered Stone $250,000 in Bitcoin, to which Stone replied saying he “cannot push too hard because of the nonsense surrounding pardons.” A week before Trump left office, Stone told Greenberg to be “prepared to wire me $250,000 because I am feeling confident,” The Daily Beast reported.

Stone confirmed to the outlet Greenberg wanted to pay him for help with a pardon, but denied asking for money or acting on the request.

Right before leaving office, Trump issued 73 pardons and 70 commutations, including for his former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

The Greenberg letter is the latest development in the Gaetz saga since news of the investigation broke late last month. In addition to looking into whether he broke sex trafficking laws by paying for a minor to travel with him, investigators are also said to be examining whether Gaetz used campaign money to fund travel and other expenses for women.

The congressman has alleged an extortion plot against him and two of his aides have quit. Gaetz has also been accused of showing nude photos of women without their consent to lawmakers on the House floor.

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Matt Gaetz’s ally and accused sex trafficker Joel Greenberg made 150 Venmo payments to dozens of women and a 17-year-old girl, report says

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

  • Joel Greenberg made more than 150 payments to dozens of women, The Daily Beast reported.
  • One of the people paid by Greenberg, accused of sex trafficking, was a 17-year-old girl.
  • Greenberg is an ally of Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is facing a Justice Department probe.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Joel Greenberg, a former elected official in Florida and ally of Rep. Matt Gaetz, made more than 150 payments via Venmo to dozens of women as well as a 17-year-old girl, according to documents reviewed by The Daily Beast.

Greenberg, who was indicted on 33 counts last year, including one related to sex trafficking, paid the 17-year-old $300 in a June 2017 payment labeled “Food,” according to The Daily Beast.

Gaetz, a Republican of Florida, sent a Venmo payment to Greenberg nearly a year later that was intended for the same person, according to The Daily Beast.

Gaetz is the subject of an investigation by the Justice Department into whether he violated sex-trafficking laws. The investigation into Gaetz came out of the probe into Greenberg, who has been cooperating with investigators, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Read more: We spoke with 21 of Matt Gaetz’s high-school classmates. Some say they could have predicted the congressman’s sex scandal.

The Daily Beast had previously reported that Gaetz paid $900 to Greenberg, who then paid the same amount in various quantities to several young women labeled in Venmo as “Tuition” and “School.”

The outlet reported Wednesday it reviewed additional documents that showed many payments Greenberg made to women with labels that included “Ass,” “Stuff,” or just a lipstick kiss emoji.

The new documents also showed a $300 payment Gaetz made to Greenberg in November 2018 that was simply labeled with the “love hotel emoji.” The Daily Beast also confirmed Greenberg booked a single night at a hotel for the same date.

The outlet also reported Greenberg paid thousands of dollars to a woman who would later date Gaetz.

When reached for comment on The Daily Beast report, a representative for Gaetz said: “This seems more like a story about Mr. Greenberg than Mr. Gaetz.”

Gaetz has denied all of the allegations against him and said he has never paid for sex.

The Greenberg case dates back to June 2020 when he was arraigned on federal charges, prompting him to resign from his elected position as tax collector for Florida’s Seminole County. Since then, he’s been charged with 33 counts, including carrying out sex trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17.

Greenberg has pleaded not guilty on all charges, but The Orlando Sentinel reported last week that Greenberg is expected to strike a plea deal and plead guilty to some of the charges by mid-May. He could face 10 years to life in prison just on the sex trafficking charge.

Prosecutors allege that Greenberg trafficked a minor with whom he was engaged in a “sugar daddy” sexual relationship and said he launched a smear campaign against a professional rival whom he falsely accused of sexual misconduct.

Earlier this week, The Times reported that Greenberg has been cooperating with federal investigators since last year, reportedly giving investigators information about an “array of topics,” including telling them that he and Gaetz exchanged cash and gifts for sex with women.

The report came after prosecutors and Greenberg’s defense reportedly told a judge last week they were close to reaching a plea deal. Greenberg’s lawyer hinted that his client was cooperating, telling reporters last week, “I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.”

The Times reported that investigators are scrutinizing Gaetz and Greenberg’s interactions with “multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments.”

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Matt Gaetz’s indicted associate Joel Greenberg has been cooperating against him since last year, report says

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is seen during a break in the House Judiciary Committee hearing on policing practices and law enforcement accountability in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday, June 10, 2020.

  • Joel Greenberg has been cooperating against Rep. Matt Gaetz since last year, NYT reported.
  • Greenberg reportedly told investigators that he and Gaetz had interactions with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex.
  • Gaetz has been embroiled in a political firestorm since The Times reported that he was being investigated over whether he broke sex trafficking laws.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector and close associate of GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, has been cooperating with federal investigators since last year, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Greenberg has given investigators information about an “array of topics,” the report said, including encounters that he and Gaetz allegedly had with women who were given cash and gifts in exchange for sex.

The Justice Department first indicted Greenberg last June, and he resigned from his government position shortly after. Since then, he’s been charged with 33 counts, including carrying out the sex trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17.

Gaetz, meanwhile, has been embroiled in a political firestorm since The Times reported last month that the Justice Department was investigating him as part of the Greenberg inquiry. In particular, the feds are said to be looking into whether Gaetz had sex with a minor and violated sex trafficking laws.

The Florida Republican lawmaker has fervently denied the allegations against him and claimed the department’s probe is part of an elaborate and convoluted extortion scheme against his family.

A spokesperson for Gaetz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tuesday’s reporting comes after prosecutors and Greenberg’s defense attorneys told a judge last week that they were close to reaching a plea deal.

It’s unclear what the terms of the agreement would be, but Greenberg’s lawyer Fritz Scheller hinted that his client was cooperating with prosecutors, telling reporters last week, “I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.”

It’s unusual for prosecutors or defense attorneys to publicize the existence of a plea deal because they’d want to avoid tipping off other targets.

“I don’t know if [Scheller’s] foreshadowing, I don’t know what the motive would be because generally cooperators don’t want people to know they’re cooperating,” Sherine Ebadi, a former FBI agent who was the lead agent in the government’s case against ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, told Insider. “But maybe that buck has passed because this case has been so publicly talked about.”

The Times’ report on Tuesday, which revealed that Greenberg has been cooperating since last year, also suggests he didn’t have much to lose when lawyers for the prosecution and defense told the court last week that a plea deal was on the horizon.

Based on media reporting about the Gaetz probe, prosecutors likely have a large trail of breadcrumbs to follow as they work to corroborate the allegations against the GOP lawmaker.

The investigation is said to be looking into whether he used campaign money to fund travel for women, and The Times reported investigators were scrutinizing Gaetz and Greenberg’s interactions with “multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments.”

CBS News reported that prosecutors were also zeroing in on a trip Gaetz took to the Bahamas in late 2018 or early 2019 with a hand surgeon and marijuana entrepreneur who is accused of footing the bill for female sex workers, hotel rooms, and travel expenses. And The Daily Beast reported that Gaetz sent Greenberg $900 via Venmo in 2018 and that Greenberg then sent $900, in varying amounts, to three young women.

But there’s other information that prosecutors would need to build a strong case, details they may not be able to glean from records and documents.

That’s where Greenberg comes in.

For one, he could have been privy to conversations in which only he and Gaetz were present or private communications that took place on encrypted apps, in text messages that could have been deleted, or on a burner phone.

“There could be a number of things they did that the government may not have access to or doesn’t even know exist,” Ebadi said.

But the biggest thing he could speak to, she added, is whether Gaetz expressed his intent in the conduct he’s accused of engaging in.

“Depending on what prosecutors charge, often an element in various cases is intent, or proving someone’s knowledge or willfulness when committing a crime,” Ebadi said, adding that with Greenberg, “you could have someone that was present when [Gaetz] was making statements like, ‘I’m going to do this,’ or ‘I’m doing this for these particular reasons.’ Those are crucial words in a case like this, especially when it comes to that element of intent.”

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Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg has been accused of everything from acting as a vigilante police officer to trying to hack rival politicians

Joel Greenberg, tax collector for Seminole County
  • Embattled former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg had a troubled tenure in office, the NYT reports.
  • Before being charged with federal crimes, Greenberg was accused of abusing his office and wasting taxpayer funds.
  • Greenberg, an associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz, is now a key player in the investigation against Gaetz.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Embattled former Seminole County, Florida, tax collector Joel Greenberg, now a major player in the federal probe against Rep. Matt Gaetz, had a long history of being accused of official misconduct, including having complaints filed accusing him of acting as a vigilante police officer and abusing taxpayer funds.

A new examination of Greenberg’s tenure by The New York Times on Sunday uncovered numerous warning signs about Greenberg’s conduct in office. After a somewhat troubled youth, Greenberg was elected to the position of tax collector in the county in 2016, defeating the longtime incumbent in a primary challenge.

The Times said that Greenberg soon found himself “bored” in his position and sought ways to use it to his personal advantage, a tendency that would lead to his downfall and formal resignation in 2020.

Read more: Matt Gaetz is employing Trump-style fundraising pitches – including automatic recurring contributions that could dupe donors

In a complaint filed with the county’s sheriff’s office and reported by The Times, a woman said that in 2017 Greenberg pulled her over with his tax collector’s badge around his neck and yelled at her for apparently cutting him off, saying she drove “like a bat out of hell.”

Greenberg was also accused of spending over $1 million in taxpayer funds for gear including weapons and a drone, creating “no-show jobs” for family and members of his wedding party, and of trying to solicit help to hack computers belonging to member of the county commission who had criticized him.

One lawyer who represented one of Greenberg’s former employees told The Times: “It’s like the Tiger King got elected tax collector.”

Greenberg was also accused of stalking Brian Beute, a rival Democratic candidate for tax collector and local music teacher who had advocated against a real estate development supported by Greenberg.

Greenberg’s actions, according to the indictment against him, included sending a fake anonymous letter to the school claiming Beute had an inappropriate relationship with a student (and making a Facebook account to perpetuate the same false claims) and creating a fake Twitter account posing as Beutler that posted white supremacist and pro-segregationist content.

Greenberg was first criminally charged with stalking Beute and unlawfully using his identity by federal prosecutors in June 2020.

He now faces over 30 federal charges ranging from sex trafficking of a child, aggravated identity theft, creating fake IDs, wire fraud, illegal monetary transfers, and conspiracy to bribe a public official to defraud the Small Business Administration for COVID-19 relief funds, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The Sentinel reports that Greenberg is expected to strike a plea deal to plead guilty to some of the charges by mid-May. Greenberg faces 10 years to life in prison on the sex trafficking charge alone.

During his tumultuous tenure as tax collector, Greenberg became friends with Gaetz, and was brought into the fray of Republican politics in the state. He even spoke at a rally for former President Donald Trump in 2016.

Gaetz is under federal investigation for possible trafficking of a minor across state lines. Authorities are also examining whether Gaetz and Greenberg paid women for sex. Gaetz has denied the accusations and has not yet been charged with a crime.

Insider’s Sonam Sheth recently reported that the extent of Greenberg’s current legal woes could up the pressure on him to cooperate against others involved in the charges against him, and potentially cause serious trouble for Gaetz.

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