Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg to cooperate in investigation

WASHINGTON — A Florida politician who emerged as a central determine in the federal investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz has agreed to cooperate with federal investigators and admits paying an underage lady to have intercourse with him and different males, in accordance to court docket paperwork filed Friday.

Joel Greenberg is expected to plead guilty to six federal charges — together with intercourse trafficking of a kid — throughout a court docket look in Orlando on Monday. His cooperation as a detailed associate of Gaetz alerts a big escalation in the Justice Department’s investigation and probably raises the authorized and political jeopardy the Florida congressman is going through.

Federal prosecutors have been inspecting whether or not Gaetz and Greenberg paid underage women or provided them items in trade for intercourse, in accordance to individuals acquainted with the matter. The plea settlement makes no point out of Gaetz, who has vehemently denied the allegations and any wrongdoing and has insisted he is not going to resign his seat in Congress.

As a part of his plea settlement, Greenberg admitted that he recruited ladies for business intercourse acts and paid them greater than $70,000 from 2016 to 2018, together with at the very least one underage lady he paid to have intercourse with him and others.

Matt Gaetz is under investigation by the Justice Department.
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is underneath investigation by the Justice Department.
Andrew Harnik/AP

Prosecutors say Greenberg met the lady on-line — from a web site the place she was posing as an grownup — and had a primary assembly together with her on a ship, paying her $400. He later invited her to a motels in Florida, the place he and others would have intercourse together with her and in addition equipped the lady and different individuals with ecstasy, in accordance to the plea deal. In whole, prosecutors say Greenberg had intercourse with the lady at the very least seven occasions.

“Greenberg also introduced the Minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts with the Minor,” the plea settlement states. The plea deal, signed Wednesday, doesn’t determine the boys.

Prosecutors say Greenberg additionally used his place because the Seminole County tax collector to entry a state driver’s data database to “investigate” the ladies he was having intercourse with and had looked for the underage lady at the very least as soon as as a result of he “had reason to believe the minor was under the age of 18,” the plea settlement says.

Greenberg’s legal problems began last summer when he was arrested on costs of stalking a political opponent. He mailed pretend letters to the college the place his opponent taught, signed by a nonexistent “very concerned student” who alleged the trainer had engaged in sexual misconduct with one other scholar, in accordance to an indictment filed towards him.

Greenberg was charged in August with intercourse trafficking a lady between ages 14 and 17 and utilizing a state database to lookup details about the lady and different individuals with whom he was engaged in “sugar daddy” relationships, in accordance to the indictment.

Charges on allegations he embezzled $400,000 from the Seminole County tax collector’s workplace have been added earlier this yr, in accordance to the indictment.

Investigators are looking to see if Gaetz paid a minor for sex.
Investigators are wanting to see if Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz paid a minor for intercourse.
Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

Investigators have additionally been taking a look at whether or not Gaetz and his associates tried to safe authorities jobs for a number of the ladies, the individuals mentioned. They are additionally scrutinizing Gaetz’s connections to the medical marijuana sector, together with whether or not his associates sought to affect laws Gaetz sponsored.

The individuals had data of the investigation however spoke to the AP on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t allowed to publicly talk about the continuing investigation.

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