According to The Washington Times, a key figure associated with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) recently admitted to taking part in human trafficking and pleaded guilty to an array of additional charges as part of a deal, spelling potential trouble for the embattled Republican lawmaker.
The Times revealed on Friday that former Seminole County, Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg is expected to plead guilty next week to aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, stalking, conspiracy to bribe a public official, and trafficking a child.
Caught up in a scandal
Among the allegations that Greenberg is facing is a charge for paying a young girl and providing her with illegal drugs in exchange for sexual favors. What’s more, Greenberg is alleged to have introduced the victim to other men, including Gaetz.
As part of his plea agreement, in which he’ll plead guilty to six of the 33 charges he currently faces, Greenberg has pledged to “cooperate fully with the United States in the investigation and prosecution of other persons.”
The Times noted that Gaetz’s name does not appear in Greenberg’s agreement and that the Florida congressman has not been charged with any crime. For his part, the Republican lawmaker has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Fox News reported last month that Greenberg served as tax collector in Seminole County from 2016 until stepping down in June 2020.
Greenberg is said to have allegedly operated as a “sugar daddy” figure to girls and women, sometimes producing fake IDs for them using driver’s licenses that had been obtained through his office.
Spokesperson defends Gaetz
According to Fox News, Gaetz spokesperson Harlan Hill has insisted that there is currently “zero evidence” against his boss, stressing that “Congressman Gaetz has never paid for sex.”
Hill went on to express concerns over the allegations, adding that “it seems Mr. Greenberg has been trying to ensnare innocent people in his troubles for quite some time.”
“Is the media just going to continue running the same — anonymously ‘sourced’ — stories every day, repackaged, in order to avoid admitting the obvious…that over the past two weeks they hyped charges and allegations that Rep. Gaetz has repeatedly denied and that there remains zero evidence of?” Hill said.
Federal investigators are attempting to determine whether or not Gaetz paid for sexual favors with a young girl, as well as if Greenberg introduced any of the girls to Gatez for paid sexual favors.
Only time will tell if Greenberg, who is said to have been closely connected with Gaetz, offers up any information that would implicate the Florida lawmaker in any of the alleged crimes. Either way, Gaetz may be facing down a public relations nightmare that could mar his future in politics, at the very least.