NYT: Indicted Gaetz Ally Said To Be Cooperating With Justice Department

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The New York Times reports that Gaetz ally Joel Greenberg, the former Florida county tax collector indicted in the Justice Department investigation also focusing on Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), “has been providing investigators with information since last year about an array of topics, including Mr. Gaetz’s activities, according to two people briefed on the matter.”

Joel Greenberg, a onetime county tax collector, disclosed to investigators that he and Mr. Gaetz had encounters with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex, the people said. The Justice Department is investigating the involvement of the men with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments and whether the men had sex with a 17-year-old in violation of sex trafficking statutes, people familiar with the inquiry have said.

Mr. Greenberg, who is said to have met the women through websites that connect people who go on dates in exchange for gifts, fine dining, travel and allowances and introduced them to Mr. Gaetz, could provide investigators with firsthand accounts of their activities.

Mr. Greenberg began speaking with investigators once he realized that the government had overwhelming evidence against him and that his only path to leniency lay in cooperation, the people said. He has met several times with investigators to try to establish his trustworthiness, though the range of criminal charges against him — including fraud — could undermine his credibility as a witness.

Speculation about Mr. Greenberg’s cooperation began mounting last week, after his lawyer and a federal prosecutor both said in court that he was likely to plead guilty in the coming weeks. “I’m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today,” Fritz Scheller, Mr. Greenberg’s lawyer, told reporters afterward.

The Times noted that “Cooperators are expected to be fully forthcoming about their own and others’ criminality,” adding: “If prosecutors conclude that they have lied, cooperating witnesses are likely to receive no deal and could even increase their own culpability.”

So far, Greenberg is the only individual who has been publicly charged in the investigation, the newspaper reported. 

Mr. Greenberg faces dozens of other counts including sex trafficking of a minor, stalking a political rival and corruption. He was first indicted in June. The Justice Department inquiry drew national attention in recent weeks when investigators’ focus on Mr. Gaetz, a high-profile supporter of President Donald J. Trump who knew Mr. Greenberg through Republican political circles in Florida, came to light.

A spokesman for Mr. Gaetz said he had done nothing wrong. “Congressman Gaetz has never paid for sex,” said the spokesman, Harlan Hill, who suggested that Mr. Greenberg was “trying to ensnare innocent people in his troubles.”

Read the full report.

Image credit: Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr (cropped)

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