Gaetz Ally Expected to Plead Guilty in Sex-Trafficking Case
(Bloomberg) -- A political ally of U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz is expected to plead guilty next week in a child sex-trafficking and identity-theft case, which could pose a legal threat to the Republican congressman.
Former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg is set to appear at a change-of-plea hearing May 17 in federal court in Orlando, according to a filing in the case on Thursday. The development was expected after Greenberg’s lawyer, Fritz Scheller, agreed with prosecutors at a hearing last month that the matter “should resolve by guilty plea.”
It isn’t clear what type of cooperation deal, if any, Greenberg has reached. Scheller didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
The New York Times has reported that the Justice Department is investigating whether Gaetz, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, violated federal sex-trafficking laws through his connection with Greenberg. Scheller told reporters after last month’s hearing that he is “sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today,” but didn’t elaborate.
Gaetz has since hired one of Trump’s defense attorneys, Marc Mukasey.
“The first indictment of Joel Greenberg alleges that he falsely accused another man of sex with a minor for his own gain,” Harlan Hill, a representative for Gaetz at Logan Circle Group, said in an emailed statement Thursday. “That man was apparently innocent. So is Congressman Gaetz.”
Logan Circle has previously called allegations involving the congressman are “wild and false.”
Earlier this month, Republican operative Roger Stone denied a Daily Beast report that he’d asked Greenberg for $250,000 to request a pardon from Trump before he left office. Stone, who knows both Gaetz and Greenberg, said he never made the request and a pardon was never granted.
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