Joel Greenberg, a Florida man whose trial started a federal investigation involving U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz, was given an 11-year jail term for trafficking with minors and other offenses. He pleaded guilty. Greenberg, an ex-tax collector for Seminole County, was charged with stalking a political rival, corruption, issuing phony licenses, and plotting to make false loan applications. He entered a guilty plea to six federal offenses, including conspiracy to bribe a public officer, stalking, identity theft, and wire fraud. He allegedly paid at least one female to have intercourse with him and other men, according to the prosecution.
Greenberg apologized to all people living in Seminole County, the teacher he had decided to run against him, and his family. Greenberg spoke before U.S. District Judge and said that his behavior was shameful and there was no excuse for his actions. He said to Judge Gregory Presnell that he was sorry for what he had done, reported The Hill. The judge noted that he had never seen such a complex case in his 22-year-old career. He has never seen such a defendant who was accused of so many different crimes in such a short time-frame.
Since his client had helped with the investigations of 24 persons, including eight for s-x crimes, Greenberg’s lawyer had pleaded for leniency. According to defense counsel Fritz Scheller, four federal indictments came as a result of Greenberg’s cooperation, and more are anticipated in the upcoming month. Greenberg could play a huge role in a case against his friend Gaetz who allegedly paid a 17-year-old female for intercourse. Gaetz initially claimed that the accusations were a part of an extortion scheme. The Republican congressman has not been charged. Greenberg has connections to other Florida politicians. None have been named as suspects in the s-x trafficking inquiry as of yet.
Federal prosecutors agreed to nine years and three months to 11 years during a court hearing after asking for a major reduction in Greenberg’s prison term. In support of the upper end of the range, U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg told the judge that Greenberg had misused his position of trust to conduct crimes. Scheller argued that Greenberg wasn’t the same person who committed the crimes. Thus, the judge should only award him a portion of the sentence.
Scheller claims that the minor involved in the s-x crimes case was nearly an adult and had said in her escort profile on the “sugar daddy” website “Seeking Arrangements” that she was older than 18. Scheller also requested that the judge takes into account Greenberg’s battles with mental illness, which began with a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder at the age of seven and continued as an adult with panic attacks, depression, and anxiety disorders. He had bipolar disease with mania symptoms at the time of the crimes, which impacted his judgment and impulse control, according to Scheller.
Prosecutors and the defense attorney claimed that several documents pertaining to Greenberg’s assistance were submitted under seal and kept secret from the public because they were a part of ongoing investigations being carried out by state and federal investigators in Washington and Florida.