Judge agrees to delay in sentencing for Gaetz friend

Fritz Scheller, attorney for former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, responds to a question during a media availability outside the U.S. District courthouse in downtown Orlando, Fla., Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, after requesting a sentencing delay to March 2022 for his client. Greenberg has pleaded guilty to six federal offenses, including sex trafficking of a child. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge on Monday agreed to push back until next year the sentencing for U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz's friend who pleaded guilty earlier this year to sex trafficking and other charges.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell said sentencing for Joel Greenberg could be postponed from next month to next March during a hearing in federal court in Orlando. Greenberg's attorney had asked for the delay so the former local tax collector can continue cooperating with federal authorities. Prosecutors agreed to the postponement.

Greenberg wasn't present during the 20-minute hearing. The judge said he would set a new sentencing date in the future.

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.

Gaetz, a Republican who represents much of the Florida Panhandle, was not mentioned in Greenberg’s plea agreement. But Greenberg’s cooperation could play a role in an ongoing investigation into Gaetz, who was accused of paying a 17-year-old girl for sex. Gaetz has denied the allegations and previously said they were part of an extortion plot.

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