NewsLocal News


Gaetz associate pleads guilty to sex trafficking charges

 Joel Greenberg
Posted at 11:14 AM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 11:14:19-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (ABC NEWS) — A one-time close ally of Rep. Matt Gaetz, former Florida Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, pleaded guilty Monday morning to multiple federal crimes including sex trafficking of a minor, and has agreed to cooperate with federal investigators.

Gaetz's name was not mentioned in the courtroom today, but what he says could put the congressman in jeopardy.

Sources have told ABC News that for months the Department of Justice has been looking into whether Greenberg and Gaetz paid women for sex. Greenberg pleaded guilty to six of the 33 federal charges he was facing.

The judge read through each of the six counts Greenberg pleaded guilty to and Greenberg acknowledged his signature on each page of the plea agreement. When reading the counts he was pleading guilty to he answered "yes" to each one. Those charges include stalking, identity theft, wire fraud, and conspiracy to bribe a public official, as well as the sex trafficking charge.

He was shackled and handcuffed to the chain around his waist wearing a dark blue jumpsuit. The change of plea hearing lasted approximately 45 minutes.

Prior to the hearing start, Greenberg's lawyer was seen consoling him/putting his hand on his back, etc. Greenberg didn't make a statement to the court, other than answering the judge's questions noted above.

The government says they reserve the right to prosecute him on other charges if Greenberg violates any terms of the cooperation deal.