Joel Greenberg is the former Seminole County, Florida, tax collector who was arrested and charged last year with 33 federal criminal counts. Among them were theft, stalking, sex trafficking, cryptocurrency fraud, and Small Business Administration loan fraud. After months of wrangling with federal prosecutors, Greenberg struck a deal that seems to have included flipping on some other pretty influential persons. On May 17, 2021, he pleaded guilty to six of the 33 federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor.
In better times, Greenberg was a friend, associate, and ally of Republican congressman Matt Gaetz, but after his arrest, began cooperating with the feds who were investigating Gaetz. It appears that his plea deal results from that cooperation.
The Department of Justice had been investigating Gaetz for obstructing justice in a larger probe of sex trafficking. Obstruction of justice is charged when someone attempts to influence the outcome of a pending investigation. Gaetz may have had a motive for doing so since investigators were specifically looking at the actions of a Gaetz associate that may have also implicated the congressman.
So far, Gaetz has not been charged with any crime and he adamantly denies any wrongdoing. Appearing on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” earlier this year, Gaetz chafed at the on-going speculation about his involvement, saying the clam that he traveled across state lines with a 17-year-old girl for the purpose of sex was “a horrible allegation and . . . a lie.”
If guilt by association were actionable, though, Gaetz would certainly look suspicious. His friends and associates, also apparent friends and associates of Greenberg, seem to have during the time of Greenberg’s dalliances been shuffling money amongst themselves in a number of eyebrow raising transactions. One of them, Raleigh Kaplan, was arrested in December of last year for sexual battery on a child.
It is not known if Kaplan, who was the “Young Republican Chair” of the Trump campaign in Seminole County, was offered up by Greenberg as part of his subsequent plea deal.
Despite Gaetz’s denials, Greenberg’s pleading guilty and agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors could be seriously damaging. In Greenberg’s plea agreement, prosecutors said Greenberg introduced a girl to other men who “engaged in commercial sex acts” with her, though the agreement does not name those men.
That seems to be something he’s doing “off the record” for now.