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Matt Gaetz ‘Wingman’ Joel Greenberg Sentenced to Prison After Cooperating with Feds in Sex Trafficking Probe

A booking photo shows Joel Greenberg.

Joel Greenberg appears in a Seminole County, Florida Sheriff’s Office mugshot.

Joel Greenberg, the gun-toting Florida tax collector who pleaded guilty to a litany of federal charges and reportedly offered to help the authorities investigate his onetime friend Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla. 1), has been sentenced to serve 132 months — or twelve years — in federal prison on child sex trafficking and other charges. He’s also been ordered to pay more than a half-million dollars in restitution to state and federal agencies, court records say.

According to a federal court document, the sentence breaks down as follows:

INCARCERATION: 132 months. This term consists of a term of 108 months as to Counts One, Fourteen, and Twenty-six, such terms to be served concurrently with each other; a term of 20 months as to Count Eight and a term of 60 months as to Count Twenty-four, such terms to be served concurrently with each other and concurrently with the terms imposed as to Counts One, Fourteen, and Twenty-six; and a term of 24 months as to Count Nine, such term to be served consecutive to the terms imposed on all other counts.

The now-former tax man was accused of sex trafficking a child, violations of the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, unlawfully using another person’s identification, various other counts involving false documents and identity theft, wire fraud, illegal money transactions, stalking, bribing a public official, submission of a false claim, and theft of government property, some in multiple counts.

He pleaded guilty to the following six counts (we’re citing them using the numbers contained in the superseding indictment):  (1) the sex trafficking of a child, (8) production of identification and false identification documents, (9) aggravated identity theft, (14) wire fraud, (24) stalking, and (26) conspiracy to bribe a public official, submission of a false claim, theft of government property, and wire fraud (a complex accusation rolled into a single count).

The sentence applied only to the aforementioned six counts of a third superseding indictment filed against Greenberg.  The rest of the counts — there were 33 in total — were dismissed in accordance with a plea agreement.

A judge also ordered Greenberg to serve 10 years on supervised release once he’s out of prison.

Greenberg must also pay $473,733.29 in restitution to the U.S. Small Business Administration and $109,786.12 to the Seminole County Attorney’s Office in Florida.

Fines and the cost of imprisonment were waived.

A special assessment of $600, however, “is due immediately,” according to the minutes of the proceeding.

Greenberg was “remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal” at the conclusion of the multi-day proceeding this morning.

Citing several unnamed sources “familiar with the matter,” the Washington Post in September reported that “career prosecutors” recommended against filing charges against Gaetz himself in a sex trafficking probe.  The newspaper said at the time that no official decision had been made on whether or not to charge the congressman but that it was “rare for such advice” from career prosecutors “to be rejected.”

The New York Times in March 2021 reported that the DOJ had been investigating whether Gaetz, now 40, paid a 17-year-old girl to travel with him while the pair was engaged in a sexual relationship. Gaetz was 38 when the Times report dropped.

According to that 2021 Times report:

Investigators are examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws . . . . A variety of federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. The Justice Department regularly prosecutes such cases, and offenders often receive severe sentences.

Gaetz repeatedly denied wrongdoing in connection with the matter by saying he has never paid for sex.

“I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward,” Gaetz told the Times.

The congressman also told the news organization Axios that any “allegations of sexual misconduct against” him were “false” and that he was “absolutely” certain he was never involved sexually with underage women.

Law&Crime has previously hashed and re-hashed the Gaetz situation in myriad reports.

According to CNN, Greenberg attorney Fritz Scheller reportedly said after the sentencing proceeding that he was “disappointed” that the U.S. Department of Justice didn’t charge additional defendants using the information his client provided.

Scheller told a judge that Greenberg pointed investigators toward “seven or eight other men,” according to CNN’s paraphrasing of the hearing, who may have been involved with “illegal sexual contact with a minor.”

“We expect the federal government to take on the hard cases and not just the easy convictions,” Scheller reportedly said while telling prosecutors to “pursue others” besides his client.

Scheller also reportedly asked the DOJ to hold “higher-level” figures accountable in the matter. He further reportedly noted that his client was in contact with the feds as recently as a few months ago to provide information about the investigation.

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.