Who is Joel Greenberg? Matt Gaetz faces sex trafficking probe as pal is accused of 'sugar daddy relationships'
Greenberg, a 'close friend' of Gaetz, is allegedly facing 14 charges including the sex trafficking of a child and illegally using state database to create fake IDs
Congressman Matt Gaetz is under investigation by federal authorities, which reportedly stemmed from the prosecution of former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, according to a New York Times report. The Justice Department investigators are looking into whether Gaetz, a close ally of former president Donald Trump, allegedly had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and even paid for her travel. He is currently being investigated for violation of federal laws against sex trafficking.
Meanwhile, Greenberg, 35, a "close friend" of Gaetz is allegedly facing 14 charges, including the sex trafficking of a child. He was arrested at his home by federal agents in June 2020, following which he resigned as a tax collector.
What are the charges against Joel Greenberg?
According to the DOJ's press release on Greenberg's incident, he "engaged in a course of conduct that caused and attempted to cause substantial emotional distress to a political opponent who worked at a school located in the Middle District of Florida. As part of that course of conduct, Greenberg caused letters to be sent to the school where the employee worked."
"The letters falsely represented that they had been sent by an anonymous ‘very concerned student’ of the school who had information that the school employee had engaged in sexual misconduct with a particular student, which Greenberg knew was false," it reads further.
The charges against Greenberg include allegations that he allegedly stalked a “political opponent, illegally used a state database to create fake IDs and sex-trafficked a minor". Federal prosecutors have reportedly charged him with using his access as an elected official to allegedly look up information about minor girls, between the age of 14 and 17, with whom he engaged in a “sugar daddy” relationship.
He is further charged with producing “a false identification document and to facilitate his efforts to engage in commercial sex acts,” according to federal incitement filed with the US Attorney’s office last August. Many former employs reportedly told Orlando Sentinel that Greenberg “often mentioned how he and Gaetz were close friends, and that the congressman would often visit him at his Lake Mary home”.
Greenberg caught with several ‘fakes IDs’
The prosecutors reportedly told the jury that Greenberg would collect surrendered driver's licenses before they were shredded by office staff and created new IDs out of them with his photograph, while the personal information of the residents remained the same. When he was arrested from his home on June 23 in the gates of the Heathrow community, cops reportedly found a backpack consisting of several fake IDs on the front-seat of his SUV.
The second indictment accused him of using the state's database to obtain personal information on people "with whom (he) was engaged in 'sugar daddy' relationships". He was released with bond following his arrest but was taken into custody again in March for violating his 8 pm to 6 am curfew as ordered by the federal magistrate. According to court reports, “Greenberg had left his Lake Mary home on Feb. 28 and drove to his mother-in-law’s condominium in Jupiter to look for his wife, Abby Greenberg.”
Greenberg is currently in Orange County Jail, awaiting his trial in mid-June.