Gaetz associate expected to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors in case central to congressman probe

·2 min read

A former Florida politician who faces a range of charges including stalking a political opponent and sex trafficking a minor is expected to strike a plea deal in a case linked to an investigation into Republican congressman Matt Gaetz.

Joel Greenberg is scheduled to appear in US District Court on Monday for a change of plea hearing, according to court records. It is unclear what charges he will plead to.

The former Seminole County tax collector initially pleaded not guilty to charges against him, but his lawyer and prosecutors told a judge in April that he anticipated entering a plea agreement.

Mr Gaetz has adamantly denied accusations against him and has not been criminally charged.

The Florida congressman is reportedly the focus of a Justice Department investigation over an alleged relationship with a 17-year-old girl, and whether he violated federal sex trafficking laws by allegedly paying her to travel with him.

The House Ethics Committee also has opened an investigation into Mr Gaetz concerning allegations that he “engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use” and reports that he allegedly shared “inappropriate” images and videos on the floor of the House of Representatives.

The committee also is investigating whether he “misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use” or accepted bribes.

Mr Greenberg faces a 33-count indictment following an investigation in which prosecutors also began to connect Mr Gaetz – a friend of Mr Greenberg’s – to the case, and probe whether both men made digital payments to women and a girl who was 17 at the time, and whether Mr Gaetz was provided with travel and women in exchange for political favours.

According to federal prosecutors, Mr Greenberg “used his position as Seminole County Tax Collector to engage in, and facilitate, the commission of federal offenses,” including sex trafficking a child, illegally obtaining personal information from a motor vehicle record, illegally producing false identification documents, identity theft, wire fraud and money laundering.

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