Attorney Fritz Scheller and Joel Greenberg appears during a hearing of Greenberg, a former tax collector in Florida’s Seminole County who is central to the federal investigation of Republican U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz, at the federal court in Orlando, Florida, U.S. May 17, 2021, in this courtroom sketch.
Steve Bridges | Reuters
A friend of Rep. Matt Gaetz pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to multiple crimes — including sex trafficking of a minor girl — in the case that led to a sex trafficking investigation of the Republican lawmaker from Florida.
Joel Greenberg, a former Seminole County, Florida, tax collector, has agreed to cooperate and give “substantial assistance” to federal authorities in any investigation, which includes their probe of the Florida congressman.
Prosecutors will seek a reduced sentence against Greenberg if they agree that he has cooperated fully. Greenberg faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison for the sex trafficking charge.
Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, arrives to a House GOP conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, May 14, 2021.
Samuel Corum | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Gaetz, who has not been charged, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and specifically has denied having sex with a girl as young as 17 while he was an adult. The conservative represents Florida’s First Congressional District in the panhandle and is a leading supporter of ex-President Donald Trump.
Greenberg appeared in Orlando, Florida, federal court, to plead guilty to six of the 33 crimes that he was charged with.
NBC News reported that Greenberg, who was in shackles, was wearing a jail jumpsuit and a blue surgical mask during his plea.
Court records say his admitted criminal conduct included using a website to identify women that he later paid to engage in sexual acts “with him and others.”
Documents said Greenberg paid more $70,000 in 150 separate transactions to pay women for sex.