Ex-Matt Gaetz Associate Joel Greenberg Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking, Says He'll Help Prosecutors

The investigation into Joel Greenberg reportedly unearthed evidence that could potentially implicate Rep. Matt Gaetz

Joel Greenberg, Matt Gaetz
Joel Greenberg (left) and Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Seminole County Tax Collector's Office; Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

A former associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz pleaded guilty Monday to sex trafficking a minor on Monday, after agreeing to work with prosecutors in a case that potentially involves the Florida lawmaker.

The Washington Post reported that Joel Greenberg, a former local tax collector in Florida and an associate of Gaetz's, pleaded guilty to six criminal charges, including sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl.

The New York Times reported Friday that Greenberg, 37, also told prosecutors he'll work with the Justice Department's investigation.

In all, the Times reported Greenberg admitted to the sex trafficking charge, on top of stealing money from local taxpayers, defrauding the federal government, stalking and aggravated identity theft. He faces a minimum of 12 years in prison.

Gaetz, 39, has not been charged with any crime but has been embroiled in the case since late March.

News broke that month that Gaetz is under federal investigation for possible sex trafficking.

The Times reported the investigation is centered on the 17-year-old girl Greenberg admitted meeting on a sugar daddy website and paying via Venmo for sex on several occasions.

Gaetz, a Republican ally to Donald Trump, has disputed reports that he's being investigated in the same case, instead suggesting he's the subject of an "extortion" plot.

"No part of the allegations against me are true," Gaetz said in a statement at the time. He added: "I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward."

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz.

The Daily Beast reported last month that it had reviewed Venmo records between Gaetz and Greenberg from 2018, in which Gaetz sent Greenberg an identical sum to what Greenberg then sent, in three payments, to three women.

The Times had also reported it had reviewed transaction records that "show payments" from Gaetz and Greenberg to one of the women who later said it was for sex.

The Post previously reported Gaetz had allegedly "boasted" to others in Florida politics about the women he met through his connection to Greenberg.

A spokesperson for Gaetz did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment Monday.

According to court documents filed with the U.S. district court in Orlando, Greenberg told prosecutors that he "agrees to fully cooperate" with the federal investigation, including "prosecution of other persons, and to testify," which could potentially shorten his sentence.

The filing also says Greenberg could face perjury charges for lying to investigators moving forward.

In April, reporters asked Greenberg's attorney Fritz Scheller if Gaetz has anything to worry about based on what Greenberg knows.

"I'm sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today," Scheller responded.

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