Gaetz friend asks for sentencing delay as he works with feds

FILE - Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., listens during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. A former employee in the office of a Florida tax collector whose arrest triggered an investigation into U.S. Rep. Gaetz has pleaded guilty to fraud and drug charges. Court documents showed that Joseph Ellicott pleaded guilty on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida tax collector whose arrest led to a federal probe into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz wants a judge to delay his sentencing scheduled for next month for yet another time as he continues to cooperate with federal prosecutors.

Joel Greenberg's attorney on Friday asked a federal judge in Orlando, Florida, to allow him to file a motion seeking a delay in the sentencing hearing currently scheduled for March 29. U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell previously granted two delays.

In court papers, Greenberg's attorney said his client had been cooperating with federal prosecutors in Orlando and Washington in active investigations.

Attorney Fritz Scheller said he intended to file a motion outlining the reasons for the extension but that it contained “sensitive" information about the investigations, as well as Greenberg's cooperation. Because of the confidential nature of that information, that request and any subsequent hearing should be sealed and kept out of the public eye, Scheller said in the court papers.

The judge later on Friday granted the request to seal the motion asking for a delay.

Greenberg is facing up to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty last May to six federal crimes, including sex trafficking of a child, identity theft, stalking, wire fraud and conspiracy to bribe a public official.

Greenberg’s plea agreement with prosecutors requires continued cooperation with an ongoing probe into sex trafficking. His cooperation could play a role in an ongoing investigation into Gaetz, a Republican friend of his who represents much of the Florida Panhandle. Gaetz was accused of paying a 17-year-old girl for sex. He has denied the allegations and previously said they were part of an extortion plot.