On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector and friend of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), to 11 years in prison for multiple crimes, including trafficking a 17-year-old girl, stalking, and stealing $400,000 in taxpayer money. Greenberg was also sentenced to another 10 years of supervised release after his prison term.
Greenberg had faced nearly 30 years in prison, but he’s been cooperating with the Department of Justice’s sex trafficking investigation into Gaetz, who is accused of having sex with the same 17-year-old girl. (Greenberg pleaded guilty to six charges in exchange for prosecutors dropping 27 other counts.)
Greenberg would allegedly meet women on sugar dating sites, then introduce them to Gaetz. Gaetz has even called Greenberg his “wingman.” Greenberg previously told authorities that he saw Gaetz have sex with the 17-year-old and that she was paid.
The Department of Justice has been investigating Gaetz on sex trafficking charges since at least March 2021. The DOJ is looking into claims that Gaetz paid the 17-year-old to travel with him across state lines to have sex, which violates federal child sex trafficking laws.
Judge Gregory Presnel said that Greenberg provided “substantial” cooperation to the government, “more than [he’d] seen in 22 years.” But Presnel also added that Greenberg is a very bad dude: “In 22 years I’ve never experienced a case like this. I have never seen a defendant who has committed so many different types of crimes in such a short period.”
Gaetz himself has yet to be charged with any crimes, which is befuddling to Greenberg’s lawyer, Fritz Scheller. The New York Times reports that Scheller wrote in court filings that the DOJ seemed unwilling to charge people that Greenberg had implicated. He didn’t name Gaetz, but he didn’t have to. “If the government is so concerned with general deterrence, then why hasn’t it prosecuted the other individuals, including public figures, who were also involved in Greenberg’s offenses?” Scheller wrote. “Indeed, Greenberg’s plea agreement refers to the involvement of multiple co-conspirators, including individuals involved in his sex offense.”
Gaetz may not ever face charges, not because he’s innocent, but because prosecutors worry that key witnesses—including Greenberg!—will not seem credible to a jury. In September, the Washington Post reported that career prosecutors recommended against charging Gaetz because a conviction seemed unlikely, though the DOJ hasn’t made a final decision. One attorney told NBC News that Greenberg is “a documented liar.”
Greenberg and Gaetz both reportedly sought preemptive pardons from former President Donald Trump. In a confession letter Greenberg wrote after he asked MAGA goon Roger Stone to help him get a pardon, he said the men thought the girl was 19 when they had sex with her and only learned afterward that she was 17, via “anonymous tip.” Greenberg also said in text messages to Stone that Gaetz paid him to pay the girl in question; he infamously paid her via Venmo without having toggled the “private” button on his interactions. (Trump later pardoned Stone, but neither of these sex pests.)
When the news first broke that the DOJ was investigating Gaetz, he claimed that he had simply been “generous” to his former partners, none of whom were underage, and that the allegations were part of an elaborate extortion attempt.
Those seemed like insane lies then, and they still do now! But thanks to Gaetz’s “wingman” being a total creep, the congressman may evade any consequences for these truly gross allegations.