Matt Gaetz 'wingman' Joel Greenberg signals imminent plea deal with federal prosecutors
A federal court in Orlando on Thursday scheduled a "change of plea hearing" for Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector of Florida's Seminole County and a close associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), suggesting Greenberg will plead guilty Monday under a deal with federal prosecutors. Greenberg has reportedly been cooperating with federal prosecutors investigating Gaetz for potential sex trafficking and having sex with a minor, and "the likely plea by Greenberg, whom Gaetz once called his 'wingman,' is a new development that signals Gaetz may be facing increasing legal peril," Politico reports.
Greenberg faces his own 33-count indictment on a whole host of serious charges that carry long prison terms, and it isn't clear which charges he will plead guilty to on Monday or what leniency, if any, he will get for providing evidence against Gaetz. Gaetz has repeatedly denied having sex with a 17-year-old girl. Gaetz spokesman Harlan Hill told The Washington Post on Thursday that Greenberg is being charged with accusing a political rival of sex with a minor, adding: "That man was apparently innocent. So is Congressman Gaetz."
If Greenberg does testify against his former friend, "Gaetz and his attorneys are likely to seek to cast Greenberg as a liar who made up allegations against the congressman to reduce his own, significant legal exposure, and prosecutors would not be likely to rely on his testimony unless it was corroborated by other evidence," the Post reports.
Unfortunately for Gaetz, federal prosecutors have also been discussing "a potential immunity arrangement with his former girlfriend," and "those talks have intensified in recent days," Politico reports. "If the alleged victim, the ex-girlfriend, and Greenberg all cooperate against Gaetz, the chances of him being charged with sex trafficking a minor could rise substantially."
Politico's Marc Caputo outlines the allegations against Gaetz below — and tamps down expectations for a quick resolution to GatezGate. Peter Weber