Matt Gaetz could be sentenced to 30 years in prison and fined up to $10,000 if sex trafficking charges are brought
It seems like Gaetz's arrest is imminent after the alleged victim — who has not been named — testified before a Florida grand jury this week
Matt Gaetz has been embroiled in a massive sex trafficking controversy that gets more perplexing every day. A close ally of Donald Trump, he is under investigation for having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and has claimed to be a victim of an “extortion” plan by the Justice Department. The 38-year-old Republican Congressman seems to be in deep waters and it seems like Gaetz's arrest is imminent after the alleged victim — who has not been named — testified before a Florida grand jury this week saying she had sex with the Republican before she turned 18, DailyMail has learned.
If found guilty, Gaetz could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison, 30 years of probation and might have to pay up to $10,000 in fines, according to state laws. If convicted of human trafficking, a judge can impose a minimum sentence of approximately 66 months in prison absent grounds. Read on to know more.
Will Matt Gaetz be proved guilty?
A source close to the probe told the outlet that Gaetz is expected to be indicted within the next few weeks as former Florida official and friend Joel Greenberg — who was elected Seminole County Tax Collector in 2016 — is believed to have turned on the congressman in the sex trafficking investigation against him. Currently, Greenberg is in jail after being slapped with a string of charges last year including sex trafficking a minor between the age of 14 and 17.
The Florida Republican has denied all allegations. He told Axios, “The allegations against me are as searing as they are false,” adding “I believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to criminalize my sexual conduct, you know when I was a single guy.” Daily Mail, however, quotes sources familiar with the matter and reports that Gaetz's claims might be an attempt to divert attention from his connection to the Greenberg case.
‘Gaetz is a sleaze-bag’
Calling Gaetz a “sleaze-bag”, the source told Daily Mail, “The congressman impugned and damaged the reputation of someone who had nothing to do with this.”
The insider added, he “used a professional with a sterling reputation to divert the attention on a sex investigation focused on him.”
“Rest assured that Greenberg has been singing to the feds about his friend Matt Gaetz. That's why Matt is so freaked out,” the source added. The investigation snowballed into a massive controversy after Greenberg was indicted on 14 felony charges including child sex trafficking, fraud, identity theft and stalking a former political rival.
Earlier today, leaked text messages linked Gaetz to possibly attempting to get fake IDs. Another bombshell report claims the Congressman showed photos of nude women to his co-workers, claiming he had slept with them. Both Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy said that Gaetz should be kicked off his committee assignments if the allegations are true. Gaetz however, denies any wrongdoing.
How long could he spend in jail?
Charged under Florida Statute Section 787.06(3), the offense is punishable as a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony is punishable by a state prison term not exceeding 30 years, a fine not exceeding $10,000, or both. The law also states that if the person being sex trafficked is a child under the age of 18, mentally defective, or mentally incapacitated, then the felon is punishable for life under Section 787.06(3)(a)-(g).
According to Sections 775.082 and 775.083, F.S., a life felony is punishable by a state prison term for life, by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 40 years, a fine not exceeding $15,000, or both.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines “severe forms of human trafficking” as: "The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery."
Defined as a form of modern-day slavery, Florida Law says, "while many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in prostitution or the sexual entertainment industry, trafficking also occurs in forms of labor exploitation, such as domestic servitude, restaurant work, janitorial work, sweatshop factory work, and migrant agricultural work". It also reads: "The Legislature finds that traffickers use various techniques to instill fear in victims and to keep them enslaved".