Gaetz ally Joel Greenberg will cooperate in sex trafficking probe

Erik Larson

A political ally of U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz will plead guilty to child sex-trafficking and has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, according to a court filing.

Former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg will appear at the change-of-plea hearing on Monday in federal court in Orlando, records show.

The filing doesn’t identify others under scrutiny by prosecutors. The New York Times has reported that the Justice Department is investigating whether Gaetz, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, violated federal sex-trafficking laws through his connection with Greenberg.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., left, and Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg.

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The plea deal, which was expected, adds to a growing legal threat against one of the stars of the Republican party’s pro-Trump wing. As the Greenberg case intensified in recent weeks, Gaetz hired one of Trump’s criminal defense attorneys and a political consultant who was previously a contestant on Trump’s “Apprentice” reality TV shows, doubling down on his connection to the former president.

Harlan Hill, a representative for Gaetz at Logan Circle Group, didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Earlier this week, he noted that Greenberg had previously been charged with falsely accusing another man of having sex with a minor. “That man was apparently innocent. So is Congressman Gaetz,” he said.

Logan Circle has also called allegations involving the congressman “wild and false.”

Earlier this month, Republican operative Roger Stone denied a Daily Beast report that he’d asked Greenberg for $250,000 to request a pardon from Trump before he left office. Stone, who knows both Gaetz and Greenberg, said he never made the request and a pardon was never granted.

Greenberg will also plead guilty to identity theft charges, according to the filing.

The case is U.S. v. Greenberg, 6:20-cr-97, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida (Orlando).