Joel Greenberg, the former friend of Representative Matt Gaetz who managed to turn the dull-sounding job of Florida’s Seminole County tax commissioner into a romp of illegal activity, pleaded guilty to six federal charges on Monday, including fraud, stalking, and sex trafficking a minor. As part of his deal, Greenberg has agreed to “cooperate fully” with federal authorities as they pursue any potential co-conspirators, including providing his testimony at trials or in grand juries.
While any Florida representative should be concerned about abuses of power by elected officials in their state, Greenberg’s sex-trafficking charge should ring an alarm for Gaetz, who is being investigated by the Department of Justice for the alleged sex trafficking of a minor. Months before pleading guilty, according to the Daily Beast, Greenberg wrote a letter to Roger Stone seeking help with a presidential pardon, and in the letter said Gaetz paid to have sex with the same 17-year-old referred to in Greenberg’s guilty plea on Monday. Gaetz has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Though one profligate observer of the trial hired a plane to pull the banner “Tick Tock Matt Gaetz” over the courthouse where Greenberg pleaded guilty on Monday, his cooperation does not necessarily mean the resident creep of Congress will be hit with charges. As Politico notes, the 84-page plea agreement Greenberg signed “does not mention Gaetz or any one else by name.” Plus, federal prosecutors are reportedly discussing immunity for Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend, suggesting that the aid of Greenberg, now a convicted felon, may not be enough to sink his friend. Gaetz’s spokesman Harlan Hill — who did not deliver on a vow to eat his own shoe if Donald Trump lost reelection — remained confident in his client’s ability to escape being charged: “Joel Greenberg has now confessed to falsely accusing an innocent man of having sex with a minor.”
Greenberg’s decision to plead guilty to six of 33 charges was designed to limit his time in prison, though he could still face the mandatory minimum of 10 years for the sex-trafficking charge, if prosecutors consider his cooperation anything less than full. When asked on Monday if the case would impact the Gaetz probe, Greenberg’s attorney Fritz Scheller responded: “Does my client have information that could hurt an elected official? I guess this is must-see television. You’ll just have to wait and see.”