Criminal charges will probably not be warranted in the investigation into Republican representative Matt Gaetz’s alleged sex-trafficking scandal, prosecutors have advised the Justice Department.
Senior department officials have not confirmed whether the lawmaker will be charged, but the prosecutors claim that a conviction is unlikely to result from the probe, according to the Washington Post. The department typically heeds such recommendations, they said.
The prosecutors said the case was undermined by a lack of credibility demonstrated by two key witnesses against Gaetz, including the 17-year-old girl whom Gaetz was alleged to have had a sexual relationship with.
The other witness whose testimony may not be considered dependable is Seminole County’s former tax collector, Joel Greenberg. In 2021, Greenberg pled guilty to an assortment of charges including engaging in online financial transactions to pay for prostitution involving “him and others.” Greenberg agreed to cooperate and give information to federal authorities, which sparked a subsequent investigation into Gaetz’ conduct after officials encountered evidence potentially implicating him in sex trafficking.
Last month, a Florida businessman was sentenced to five years in prison after he pled guilty to an extortion scheme targeting Gaetz’s father, another affluent entrepreneur and former president of the Florida state senate, by offering to secure a presidential pardon from President Biden for his son.
Alford had proposed that Don Gaetz find $25 million to fund an operation to retrieve FBI agent Robert Levinson, who was last seen in 2010 and is presumed to have died in Iran. Alford tried to convince Don Gaetz that his son could claim credit for the operation and gain favor from the DOJ to hopefully get lenient treatment.
A statement of facts submitted alongside the guilty plea read: “Alford’s fraudulent scheme was thus making materially false promises to obtain millions of dollars from DG, although Alford knew he could not ’guarantee’ a pardon for DG’s family member,” Politico reported at the time.
After the allegations against Gaetz became public, in March 2021 Democratic representative Ted Lieu tweeted at House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: “If it’s true Rep Matt Gaetz engaged in sex trafficking, he needs to resign and be prosecuted. In the meantime, you can’t have Gaetz sitting on the Congressional Committee that has oversight over the Department that is investigating him.”