The legal jeopardy facing Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz got turned up close to a 10 on Thursday when it was revealed in court that his close friend and alleged “wingman” in securing women for sex, former Seminole County, Fla., tax collector Joel Greenberg, apparently is cooperating with prosecutors in their probe of underage sex trafficking.
Since last year a federal probe has been looking into whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her travel to have sex with her. The Donald Trump-loving Gaetz has not been charged with any crime and has denied any wrongdoing.
It was recently reported that Gaetz had asked twice-impeached former president Trump for a blanket pardon.
Greenberg had first been charged last summer in a bare-bones indictment that prosecutors repeatedly superseded to add charges of sex trafficking of a minor, stealing from the tax office and even trying to use fraud to get COVID-19 relief money while out on bond. In the course of the investigation into his conduct, people familiar with the matter have said, federal authorities came across evidence that Gaetz might have committed a crime and launched a separate investigation into him.
At a status conference in the case Thursday, federal prosecutor Roger Handberg told a judge he expected the case to end in a plea, though negotiations are ongoing. Fritz Scheller, an attorney for Greenberg, asked the judge to set a deadline of May 15 for the two sides to either reach a deal, or move toward a trial in the summer.
Greenberg is facing a 33-count indictment, giving him significant incentive to plead guilty in the case and cooperate with investigators to help reduce his potential prison time.
Gaetz currently is scheduled to speak at a Women For America First event on Friday at Trump’s Doral golf resort.