Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has for months now been seeking to fend off one of the most weird sex scandal allegations to ever befall a member of Congress. The male he has to thank, other than himself, is Joel Greenberg.
When The New York Situations described very last thirty day period that Gaetz was beneath federal investigation more than whether he engaged in the sex-trafficking of a 17-calendar year-aged woman, it observed that the inquiry sprung from a separate investigation into Greenberg. A previous Seminole County, Florida, tax collector, Greenberg has been billed with every thing from intercourse crimes to getting sports activities memorabilia with taxpayer income. Gaetz and Greenberg were being welcoming, and if Greenberg cooperates with investigators, as his legal professional Fritz Scheller indicated he might final 7 days, it could be incredibly, pretty poor information for the Trump-loving congressman.
“I am certain Matt Gaetz is not emotion very comfortable right now,” Scheller told reporters gathered exterior a federal courthouse in Orlando final Thursday, referring to Gaetz as a “potential co-defendant” to Greenberg.
It is unclear to what extent Gaetz could be exposed lawfully if Greenberg does certainly strike a plea offer and cooperate. It is very clear, even so, that the two understood and affiliated with just about every other, and stories have prompt that their connection may have overlapped with some of the pursuits for which Greenberg has been billed. Here’s what we know so significantly about Greenberg’s situation, and where the Trump-loving Florida congressman fits into this sordid story of sexual intercourse, corruption, and cryptocurrency:
Who is Joel Greenberg?
Greenberg was arrested in June of 2020 on stalking costs, and has since been slapped with a whole of 33 federal fees. The scope of his alleged criminality is astonishing, even by Florida Man specifications, but the simple fact that he was most likely engaged in felony activity could not have occur as a shock to any person following his chaotic tenure as Seminole County’s tax collector.
Greenberg, now 36, owned an Orlando marketing organization when he decided to consider a shot at unseating longtime incumbent Ray Valdes in Seminole County’s 2016 tax collector election. He won the race, and before long drew the focus of various well known Trump supporters, such as Gaetz. “Joel Greenberg has absent to the Seminole County Tax Collector’s office environment and been a disrupter,” Gaetz reported in 2017. “If you glimpse at what persons want in the place proper now, they want that disrupter … If Joel Greenberg have been to run for congress from that district, I assume he results in being the future congressman from the 7th district.”
“Disrupter” is a imaginative descriptor for Greenberg’s hugely controversial tenure in neighborhood place of work, which was characterized by fights that had tiny to do with his occupation. In 2017, he sought and gained a controversial exemption from a Florida state legislation that prohibits workers from carrying a gun while undertaking their duties. A handful of months afterwards, he came under fire for utilizing his official car and ID to pull a girl about for speeding. The adhering to 12 months, he made headlines for posting anti-Muslim sentiment on Facebook and then saying he does not have “a racist or bigoted bone in my body” and that he arrives from a era that “doesn’t see colour.” He courted a lot more controversy in 2019 when he sought to get out of a dashing ticket by citing his task.
Greenberg’s time as tax collector was also marred by accusations of cronyism. Auditors who reviewed information of Greenberg’s tenure discovered that he doled out unwanted consulting contracts to buddies and associates, and tallied more than $1.65 million in “unnecessary personnel fees.” According to files from that audit, Greenberg invented and mounted pals a amount of significant-spending positions, including a “special tasks tech” paid $162,572, a “safety specialist” paid out $195,807, and at the very least one girl with no identified title who was compensated $105,053. ”Staff have no idea what she did,” the auditor wrote.
The superfluous staff were being terminated soon after Greenberg resigned next his arrest final June.
What are the charges versus Joel Greenberg?
Greenberg was in the beginning arrested in June 2020 for alleged attempts to “cause significant emotional distress” to a songs trainer who experienced filed to run versus Greenberg. This led to expenses of stalking and illegal use of usually means of identification of a further man or woman. Prosecutors accused Greenberg of mailing nameless letters to the prep school wherever the trainer worked, suggesting the male instructor had an poor sexual romance with an underage university student, and spreading the identical false accusations on Twitter and Fb.
Later on that summer, Greenberg was charged with numerous violations of Driver’s Privacy Security Act Violations, many counts of output of an identification doc and fake identification documents, and aggravated identity theft. In accordance to prosecutors, Greenberg abused his elected place of work, employing “his access to the Seminole County Tax Collector’s Business office to acquire surrendered driver licenses before they were being shredded.” He then “used the surrendered driver licenses that he experienced taken to lead to bogus driver licenses to be created that experienced his photograph but the personalized data of the victims whose driver licenses he had taken.”
He was also charged with sexual intercourse trafficking a slight, which in the long run led authorities to start a individual investigation into irrespective of whether Gaetz could have engaged in sexual intercourse trafficking of the exact same individual. Greenberg was allegedly making use of pretend IDs to “facilitate his efforts to engage in commercial sex acts” with men and women with whom he engaged in “sugar daddy” interactions.
Somehow, this is not all. In March of this 12 months, Greenberg was slapped with 21 new federal fees, together with the alleged embezzlement of far more than $400,000 in taxpayer funds. The audit of Greenberg identified that virtually $100,000 of it was employed to set up a cryptocurrency mining procedure, the overheating of which was blamed for a fireplace that triggered approximately $7,000 in damages. Greenberg also allegedly utilized taxpayer money to buy sports activities memorabilia, which includes gear signed by Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Auditors discovered that Greenberg also made use of taxpayer income on physique armor, weapons, ammo, and a drone with thermal imaging capabilities.
To best it off, Greenberg has been accused of re-developing corporations he’d shut down in buy to get use for Paycheck Security Plan financial loans, and then making an attempt to bribe Tiny Company Administration staff into aiding him fraud his way into receiving Covid-19 reduction funds.
In full, Greenberg is going through a whole of 33 federal fees, for which he is awaiting demo in July. He was to begin with introduced on bond after his arrest final calendar year, but was jailed yet again past thirty day period immediately after violating the curfew connected to his launch. In late February, Greenberg drove to his mom-in-law’s household in Jupiter, Florida, at 5 a.m. to consider to come across his wife. His mother-in-law termed the law enforcement, who did not arrest him at the time. They came to get him a couple times afterwards at his dwelling outside the house of Orlando. A standoff ensued, all through which Greenberg claimed to have explosives and, at a person point, opened his doorway and threw a bag of medication on to the driveway. It took hrs for the law enforcement to get him into custody.
How are Matt Gaetz and Joel Greenberg linked?
Greenberg squandered no time doing the job his way into the planet of Trump supporters in Florida politics following starting to be tax collector. He even spoke at a Trump rally in Sanford, Florida, in late 2016. According to the Moments, he met Gaetz in 2017 by way of a community of Trump backers in Florida, and it was in June of that year that Gaetz floated the thought of Greenberg functioning for U.S. Congress. A month afterwards, Greenberg posted a picture of himself, Gaetz, and Roger Stone to Twitter. The image was posted during the time period of time prosecutors reported Greenberg was recruiting the 17-yr-previous in query for sex.
— Joel Greenberg (@JoelGreenbergTC) July 9, 2017
We also know that Greenberg and Gaetz had been Venmo friends.
The Day-to-day Beast described last 7 days that in May perhaps 2018 Gaetz despatched Greenberg $900 by Venmo with a concept “hit up _____,” the blank currently being a nickname for a woman who experienced turned 18 significantly less than 6 months just before the transaction. Hours afterwards, Greenberg utilised the identical app to pay out a few youthful girls a total of $900. The Each day Beast later on documented on more damning Venmo transactions among Gaetz and Greenberg and from Greenberg to younger girls, including a 17-calendar year-outdated.
The monetary transactions involving Gaetz, Greenberg, and youthful women of all ages recruited on the web are reportedly at the coronary heart of the federal investigation into Gaetz. The Times has described that both Gaetz and Greenberg manufactured Money Application and Apple Pay back payments to at the very least one particular of the women who has been questioned by the FBI. In 2019 and 2020, folks acquainted with the investigation instructed the Periods, Gaetz and Greenberg would meet women of all ages recruited on the net, pay them in money drawn from ATMs, and have sex with them.
The Day by day Beast’s report also notes that Gaetz and Greenberg “share Venmo connections with at least two females who gained [Venmo] payments from Greenberg, and both equally have professional associations with just about every other.” The Instances reported that the 17-year-old that led to Greenberg’s intercourse trafficking charge is the similar 17-calendar year-aged investigators have related to Gaetz.
So, there is a good deal of overlap below, which, as Greenberg’s legal professional informed reporters on Thursday, is a lot motive for Gaetz to experience uncomfortable as the prospect of Greenberg’s cooperating with investigators looms.
This put up has been updated.