Bad News For Gaetz: Court Sets Change Of Plea Hearing For Associate Accused Of Sex Trafficking

Screenshot, Twitter/JoelGreenbergTC
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May 13, 2021 12:58 p.m.

In a glimpse of the screws tightening around Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a federal judge in Florida on Thursday scheduled a hearing for a longtime Gaetz associate to change his previous not guilty plea in a sex trafficking case.

The move suggests that Greenberg will likely plead guilty in the case, where federal prosecutors have said that he committed a range of crimes that include stalking a political opponent, making fake IDs, and sex trafficking.

After a hearing last month in which both Greenberg’s attorney and prosecutors said that the former Seminole County tax collector was likely to plead guilty, Greenberg attorney Fritz Scheller told reporters that “I’m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.”

The court order in Orlando set the change of plea hearing for Monday. The judge added that “any representations or promises made to the Defendant” need to be laid out in a document filed before the Monday hearing.

The scope of any potential plea deal and cooperation agreement remain unknown publicly.

Greenberg has reportedly been speaking with prosecutors since last year about Gaetz. The Florida congressman is reportedly under investigation for his relationship with a 17-year-old girl, who he allegedly moved across state lines while in a sexual relationship.

Gaetz also reportedly faces a public integrity investigation into his dealings with marijuana lobbyists, with investigators reportedly examining whether Gaetz took any official action in response to benefits he alleged received, including a trip to the Bahamas.

The potential Greenberg plea comes as prosecutors turn the screws on other Gaetz associates, including an ex-girlfriend of the member of Congress. Greenberg would be thought to have credibility issues as a witness at trial, raising the stakes or prosecutors to find additional cooperators.

In the case of the ex-girlfriend, she reportedly told friends that she feared prosecutors would try to bring an obstruction charge against her to pressure her to cooperate. CNN reported this week that prosecutors are still interested in her cooperation.

Read the filing here:

Correction: This post has been corrected to make clear that Gaetz remains a member of Congress. TPM regrets the error.

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