The former Florida tax official whose criminal case led to a sex trafficking investigation of Rep. Matt Gaetz has agreed to plead guilty to six of the charges against him and to cooperate with federal investigators, court filings show.
In a copy of the plea agreement submitted in federal court in Orlando on Friday, Joel Greenberg said he will plead guilty to charges of identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, conspiracy to bribe a public official and sex trafficking of a minor — a fraction of the 33 charges that prosecutors had already slapped him with.
The filing also said he agrees “to cooperate fully with the United States in the investigation and prosecution of other persons, and to testify, subject to prosecution for perjury or making a false statement, fully and truthfully before any federal court proceeding or federal grand jury in connection with the charges in this case.”
If he cooperates fully, the government will seek a reduced sentence. The counts Greenberg agreed to plead guilty to carry a minimum mandatory sentence of 12 years in prison and a maximum of life behind bars.
Greenberg's lawyer, Fritz Scheller, said his client is "committed to honoring all of the provisions" in the agreement.
A judge will hold a hearing on the proposed deal on Monday.
It's uncertain what the agreement means for the investigation into Gaetz, who has not been charged with any crime and who's repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Federal investigators are looking into whether Gaetz and Greenberg used the internet to search for women they could pay for sex. They are also investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a minor and paid for her to travel with him, The New York Times reported.
Harlan Hill, a spokesman for Gaetz, said the congressman "doesn't seem to be named nor referenced in Mr. Greenberg's plea. Congressman Gaetz has never had sex with a minor and he has never paid for sex."
According to the court filing, Greenberg spent over $70,000 in 150 transactions between 2016 and 2018 to pay women for sex. "Greenberg was involved in what are some times referred to as 'sugar daddy' relationships where he paid women for sex, but attempted to disguise the payments as 'school-related' expenses or other living expenses" that he paid for in part with a Venmo account, a statement of facts signed off on by Greenberg said.
One of those women was under 18 “for part of the time” Greenberg paid her for sex acts “with him and others,” the filing said.
In the filing, he acknowledged having sex with her at least seven times when she was a minor.
“Other men who Greenberg introduced the minor to engaged in commercial sex acts with the minor in Greenberg’s presence when the minor was under the age of 18,” the filing says.
Greenberg would also "offer and supply the minor and others with Ecstasy, which Greenberg would take himself as well," and would sometimes pay the minor extra to take the drug, the filing says.
The bribery charge involves allegations that Greenberg paid off a Small Business Administration employee to approve federal loans from a Covid-19 relief program that Greenberg was not entitled to.
The wire fraud charge stems from allegations that he embezzled money from a cryptocurrency account he set up after he was elected tax collector for Seminole County.
The stalking and identity theft charges he's agreed to plead guilty to are what initially got him arrested last year. Prosecutors said he used phony identities to smear a teacher who was challenging his re-election campaign, accusing the person of having engaged in "sexual misconduct with a student."
On Thursday, after it was revealed that a change of plea hearing had been scheduled in Greenberg's case, Gaetz's spokesman said the teacher allegations show that Greenberg should not be believed.
"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," Hill said.