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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A former shoe company CFO admitted to siphoning $30 million to pay for diamonds and flights to tropical vacations

  • The former CFO of a Massachusetts shoe company pleaded guilty to a $30 million embezzlement scheme.
  • 64-year-old Richard Hajjar bought private flights to the Caribbean and diamonds with the money.
  • The company, Alden Shoe Co., terminated Hajjar in October 2019.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The former chief financial officer of a Massachusetts shoe company pleaded guilty to embezzling $30 million from the business over the course of several years, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

When 64-year-old Richard Hajjar was the CFO for Alden Shoe Co., he wrote checks to himself from the company and transferred business funds to his personal accounts, the DOJ said.

He used the money to “enrich himself” by buying “gifts and luxury travel for others close to him, including private flights to the Caribbean and diamond jewelry,” the Wednesday statement said.

In a civil lawsuit from Alden, the company said Hajjar spent some of the money on Bianca de la Garza, a Boston-based news anchor whom he’d developed a romantic relationship with at the time.

“They vacationed together often. And Mr. Hajjar purchased gifts for Ms. de la Garza worth hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the lawsuit filed in Suffolk County Superior Court read.

In total, Hajjar transferred about half, or $15 million, of the embezzled funds to de la Garza, and at one point purchased her a million-dollar co-op in New York City.

The scheme lasted from about 2011 to October 2019, when the company terminated him. Alden, a 137-year-old family-owned luxury men’s shoe-maker, did not respond to Insider’s request for comment on the story.

Read more: A crypto exec listed Goldman, Lending Club and RBC on his resume. A bankruptcy examiner claims he’s a prison escapee.

Before being terminated, Hajjar was Alden’s vice president and corporate secretary, a member of the board of directors, and the CFO.

According to the civil lawsuit, Hajjar worked at Alden for 30 years and became “a trusted advisor to the Tarlow family and a key employee at Alden.”

His lead attorney, Daniel Conley, of the Boston law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, PC, said Hajjar had more than just an employee-employer relationship with the company.

“He’s remorseful, very remorseful, and has accepted full responsibility for his actions,” Conley said to Insider Friday.

In the criminal case against him, Hajjar pleaded guilty to wire fraud, unlawful monetary transactions, and filing a false tax return, in which he didn’t claim the income from the embezzled funds. The charges come with 20-, 10-, and 3-year prison sentences, respectively, along with fines, according to the Justice Department statement.

The court, however, has conditionally accepted a range of 48 to 72 months in federal prison, which the judge will consider at the sentencing hearing on Sept. 15.

Conley said he’s hopeful that in sentencing the judge “considers the fact that Mr. Hajjar accepted full responsibility, is very sorry for his actions, and has returned millions of dollars,” totaling $4.5 million.

Read the original article on Business Insider