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Sentencing for Gaetz 'wingman' delayed until August

POLITICO logo POLITICO 5/16/2022 By Matt Dixon

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A former Florida tax collector whose sex trafficking and public corruption case ensnared Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) had his sentence delayed yet again.

Former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, once referred to as Gaetz’ “wingman,” will likely be sentenced in August, according to an order filed on Monday by U.S. District Judge Gregory A. Presnell.

Greenberg initially faced 33 criminal counts but prosecutors cut a deal with him last year, reducing the charges to six in exchange for Greenberg’s cooperation in multiple inquiries, including into the GOP congressman.

Greenberg’s case has been on hold since February and the judge has approved a handful of sentencing extensions as Greenberg, who pleaded guilty to multiple charges including stalking, fraud and sex trafficking a minor, worked with federal prosecutors.

In Greenberg’s 84-page plea agreement, he told investigators that the sex trafficking victim had sex with “other men” while underage, but no additional details have been made public. Prior to any potential cooperation, Greenberg faced mandatory minimum of 12 years in federal prison, and ordered to forfeit $654,000 he obtained as part of the alleged wire fraud and bribery schemes.


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Greenberg’s attorney, Fritz Scheller, did not respond to a request seeking comment.

Gaetz got pulled into the investigation as part of the broader probe into Greenberg. The New York Times reported in March 2021 that the three-term panhandle Republican was under investigation over whether he had sex with a 17-year-old girl. Federal authorities are also looking into whether Gaetz obstructed justice.

Gaetz has denied wrongdoing, and has faced no charges.

Investigators have interviewed several people close to Gaetz, including an ex-girlfriend who testified to a federal grand jury in January after months of working with investigators.

She was reportedly on a 2018 trip with Gaetz, a handful of other young women, and friends of Gaetz to the Bahamas, a trip that came under scrutiny from investigators and a key cog in the investigation into the congressman.

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