The sprawling federal investigation of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) might never have begun were it not for a prep school music teacher’s insistence on finding out who attempted to smear him.
In October 2019 Brian Beute received a letter alleging that he had had an inappropriate sexual relationship with the purported student who had written. The writer claimed to have proof: private Facebook messages in Beute said to the alleged victim: “Please remember to keep this a secret. I could go to jail.”
Investigators quickly determined that the allegation was a lie and was the work of Joel Greenberg to derail the Orlando-area teacher’s candidacy for the local tax collector’s race. At Beute’s urging federal authorities arrested Greenberg and began combing through his electronic records and devices. That’s when they discovered the first bits of evidence of alleged sex trafficking payments, drug-fueled parties and Gaetz’s possible involvement. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing.
Initially Greenberg was indicted on two charges related to his alleged smear campaign against Beute. As a result of the federal investigation he now faces 33 charges, including sex trafficking of a child, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud and bribery. He has pleaded not guilty and during a court appearance last week it was revealed that Greenberg’s attorney and a prosecutor are in negotiations on a possible plea deal. That development may not bode well for Gaetz if Greenberg offers up details about his relationship with the congressman.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Beute’s attorney, David Bear, said that his client had considered dropping the matter after he was cleared of the lurid allegation. “That was a consideration – should he just bow out and all these threats will go away. He decided not to. All of these other things mushroomed out of that one decision for him to stand tall.”