Former Gaetz confidant pleads guilty to six federal charges
SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. / CNN — Joel Greenberg, an indicted close associate of Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, pleaded guilty on Monday to six federal charges, admitting to a judge that he knowingly solicited and paid a minor for sex.
Greenberg didn’t talk much during the 45-minute hearing, only responding with “yes” and “I do” as the judge read the details of his plea agreement.
The guilty plea from Greenberg, a former Seminole County, Florida, tax commissioner, comes several days after he struck a deal with prosecutors to avoid some of the other 33 federal charges he had faced that ranged from identity theft to fraud and bribery allegations.
As part of the plea, Greenberg agreed to give “substantial assistance” to prosecutors, including by testifying at trials or in federal grand juries if needed and in turning over all documents he might have that could help the federal inquiry.
Greenberg’s plea documents released on Friday tell how he used cell phone apps to make contacts, paid thousands of dollars for sex with younger women, had drug-laced, multi-person rendezvous at hotels and repeatedly took advantage of his public office’s power.
Federal investigators are still examining whether Gaetz broke federal sex trafficking, prostitution, and public corruption laws and whether he had sex with a minor. Gaetz has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing.
The congressman isn’t mentioned in the 86 pages of plea deal documents released last Friday, something his spokesman, Harlan Hill, pointed to on Friday when he again insisted on his client’s innocence in a statement.
Greenberg’s admitted sex charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, yet prosecutors in the plea deal said that if he helped them significantly, he may be able get a sentence less than the minimum.
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