CNN reports that Joel Greengberg, a former Florida official and ally of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) who plays a central role in the investigation into the congressman, is likely to strike a plea deal, his attorney and prosecutors indicated in court on Thursday.
Greenberg’s cooperation with the Justice Department could provide investigators with key details as they work to determine whether Gaetz broke sex trafficking or prostitution laws himself.
Gaetz has denied ever paying for sex and over the past week has sought to frame the allegations against him as the result of political bias in the justice system and the media.
A federal prosecutor and Greenberg’s attorney told a judge the deal was not finalized but there is an expectation that it could be resolved within weeks.
US Attorney Roger Handberg said prosecutors “believe this case will be a plea,” and Fritz Scheller, Greenberg’s attorney, requested a plea date by May 15, CNN reported. If a plea is not reached, the case could go to trial in July.
Greenberg, the former tax commissioner in Seminole County, Florida, and a friend of Gaetz’s, had faced decades in prison on 33 federal counts that ranged from identity theft to sex trafficking of a minor. CNN reported last week that the investigation of Gaetz began in 2020 as part of the broader probe into Greenberg.
People who know the two men have described them as close, with a relationship that was as much about Republican Party politics in the state as after-hours socializing.
Investigators are considering Gaetz’s connections to several associates in Florida who may have benefited politically in return for providing the congressman with favors including escorts, travel, and campaign donations, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
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