A former Florida county tax collector pleaded guilty to several federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor, on Friday.
Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last year, admitted in court papers and agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department investigations, The New York Times reported. He currently faces 12 years in prison.
A friend of Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Greenberg did not implicate Gaetz by name in papers filed by prosecutors in Federal District Court in Orlando.
Greenberg, 37, admitted he and unidentified others had paid a 17-year-old girl for sex and that he had provided her with drugs. He also said he ”introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts” with her, according to the documents, and that he was sometimes present.
The other ”adult men” were were not named.
Prosecutors said they had evidence corroborating Greenberg’s admissions — including a series of communications and transactions Greenberg had with the young woman, and a list of dates of their encounters.
With Greenberg’s truthfulness likely to be challenged by anyone charged based on anything he tells prosecutors, the inclusion of that material appeared designed to bolster the credibility of Greenberg as a witness, the Times reported.
Greenberg, a former Seminole County tax collector, has a history of lying and has now pleaded guilty to a range of crimes, including some after he was initially charged by prosecutors last year, the Times report said.
Gaetz is said to be under investigation into whether he violated sex trafficking laws by having sex with the same teen.
The Times reported Greenberg has told investigators Gaetz had sex with the teen and knew that she was being paid, according to a person briefed on the inquiry.
Greenberg also admitted that he had stolen money from local taxpayers, committed identity theft, and defrauded the federal government.
Gaetz has denied paying for sex and said his generosity toward former girlfriends was being misconstrued.
Appearing on Newsmax TV on May 5, Gaetz said President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice targets “fighters” and supporters of former President Donald Trump.
“Of course, there are a ton of things in my life looking back that I wish I would have done differently, but none of them are criminal,” Gaetz told host Grant Stinchfield on “Stinchfield,” responding to reported allegations he had sex with a 17-year-old female.
“These allegations are false, and as I’ve stated before, the anonymous allegations against me range from total distortions of my life to these crazy and wild conspiracy theories that will never be proven, but they always come for the fighters, Grant.”
Gaetz added no women had come forward alleging wrongdoing, and the FBI and Justice Department had made no charges, or leaked any evidence of criminality, despite its long-running investigation.