Florida radio host connected to Matt Gaetz sex trafficking probe cooperating with federal authorities

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A Florida radio host has pleaded guilty to charges related to the federal sex trafficking investigation that has targeted Matt Gaetz, a Republican congressman and close ally of former President Donald Trump.

Joe Ellicott, a “shock jock”-style host for CBS Sports Radio Orlando, pleaded guilty to charges of illegally selling Adderall, a drug meant for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as well as a charge of fraud via agreeing to bribe a public official, The Daily Beast first reported on Wednesday.

The plea came as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors for cooperation on their further investigation into Mr Gaetz and potentially others. An attorney for Mr Ellicott told the news outlet that he was cooperating with regard to the probe into the congressman specifically.

Mr Gaetz has not been charged in the ongoing investigation, which entered headlines in March of last year when it was reported that the Florida congressman was being investigated for alleged sexual contact with a 17-year-old and for allegedly paying for her travel across state lines as well. He has fiercely denied the accusations, and decried the investigation as a political effort to tarnish his reputation.

Nevertheless the probe has now ensnared two people close to the Florida Republican, Mr Ellicott and Mr Gaetz’s confidant and friend Joel Greenberg. Both men are reportedly cooperating with federal investigators, and in October Greenberg asked for a judge to delay his sentencing so that he can spend more time sitting with federal investigators as they continue their pursuit of the congressman.

Joe Zwick, Mr Ellicott’s attorney, told The Daily Beast on Wednesday that the charges his client faced did not relate to the sex trafficking aspects of the federal investigation into Mr Gaetz and Mr Greenberg, who has been described in news reports as Mr Gaetz’s point man in the alleged scheme but rather stemmed from the corrupt practices Mr Greenberg was employing through his position as a Florida state tax collector.

Rep Matt Gaetz (Getty Images)
Rep Matt Gaetz (Getty Images)

“This investigation had nothing to do with the sex scandal, but with the unprecedented things Greenberg was doing with the tax office. The big difference is that Joel Greenberg was elected to serve the people, and Joe was not. And the fact that this was done by criminal information not an indictment is pretty telling of how the prosecutors view him in this case,” Mr Zwick told The Daily Beast, adding: “Obviously they value his continued cooperation, as he does as well. We are going to set off sentencing as long as we can, and do everything we can to reduce his time.”

The case against Mr Gaetz is proceeding without sign of slowing down and has most recently resulted in the convening of a federal grand jury in Florida where Mr Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend and others have testified about the congressman, according to news reports.

Mr Greenberg plead guilty to numerous charges last year including the sex trafficking of a minor, identity theft, fraud, and stalking. He faces more than a decade behind bars.

His attorney teased last year that his client could have information that federal prosecutors could use against Mr Gaetz, telling reporters: "Does my client have information that could hurt an elected official? I guess this is must-see television. You'll just have to wait and see.”