AP

Prosecutors: Reduced sentence, prison time for Gaetz friend

Nov 19, 2022, 11:36 AM | Updated: 11:45 am

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida tax collector whose arrest on sex trafficking and identity theft charges led to a probe of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz should get his sentence reduced for cooperating with authorities, but he still deserves prison time to send a message that no public official is above the law, federal prosecutors said in court papers.

Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg is facing a 12-year prison sentence when he is sentenced in federal court in Orlando, Florida in two weeks. But he has been cooperating with federal agents and has provided assistance in several probes, leading prosecutors to ask for a reduced sentence. However, no other reasons should be considered for any other downward departures, prosecutors said in court papers filed this month.

The court filings from prosecutors didn’t specify how many years in prison Greenberg’s sentence should be adjusted if his cooperation is part of the calculation. Prosecutors said it should be reduced by 10 levels in the federal guidelines, which assigns a base offense level for each type of crime.

“It thus appears that the only thing that can be done to protect the public from Greenberg, and to deter him from future criminal conduct, is for him to remain in prison,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum filed this week. “This will serve to deter Greenberg from future criminal conduct, but will also send a message to others, that public officials are not above the law.”

Greenberg is facing sentencing on six federal crimes, including sex trafficking of a child, identity theft, stalking, wire fraud and conspiracy to bribe a public official. Prosecutors said he had paid at least one underage girl to have sex with him and other men. Greenberg pleaded guilty to the charges last year.

Greenberg’s cooperation could play a role in the ongoing probe into Gaetz, who is being investigated over whether he paid a 17-year-old for sex. Gaetz has denied the allegations and previously said they were part of an extortion plot. Gaetz, a Republican, represents a large part of the Florida Panhandle. No charges have been brought against the congressman.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell agreed to prosecutors’ request to seal court papers dealing with an ongoing, unnamed investigation. The request was made “in order to safeguard from public scrutiny certain sensitive information regarding pending criminal investigations which would come to light were the proceedings to become public knowledge,” prosecutors said.

The Greenberg plea agreement said the former tax collector admitted being “involved in what are sometimes referred to as ‘sugar daddy’ relationships where he paid women for sex, but attempted to disguise the payments as ‘school-related’ expenses or other living expenses.”

Greenberg has been linked to a number of other Florida politicians and their associates. So far, none of them has been implicated by name in the sex trafficking probe.

Greenberg attorney Fritz Scheller said in court papers this week that the reduced sentence request by prosecutors is insufficient given that Greenberg’s cooperation has led to investigations or prosecutions of seven people. Scheller asked the judge for a greater reduction of 16 levels.

“At this point, his cooperation has led to multiple federal indictments and convictions, with more to come,” Scheller said.

Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Rudy Giuliani...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani is the final defendant to serve indictment in Arizona fake elector case

Rudy Giuliani has been served an indictment in Arizona's fake elector case for his role in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

5 hours ago

Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday...

Associated Press

Some in Houston facing no power for weeks after storms cause widespread damage, killing at least 4

Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday, May 17. Thunderstorms hit the southeastern part of Texas, killing at least four people.

1 day ago

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer...

Associated Press

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer

A man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for attacking the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer.

1 day ago

audio from President Joe Biden’s interview about classified documents blocked...

Associated Press

GOP advances Garland contempt charges after White House exerts executive privilege over Biden audio

The move to release audio from President Joe Biden’s interview about classified documents was blocked on Thursday by the White House.

2 days ago

Asylum processing for new migrants: Changes could come soon...

Associated Press

The Biden administration is planning more changes to quicken asylum processing for new migrants

The Biden administration is planning to quicken the asylum processing for new migrants as an interim step rather than an executive order.

3 days ago

Record-setting rally for U.S. stocks reflects inflation slowing down...

Associated Press

Stock market today: Asian shares advance after another round of Wall St records

The S&P 500 jumped 1.2% to top its prior high set a month and a half ago. This move reflects a record-setting rally for U.S. stocks.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Prosecutors: Reduced sentence, prison time for Gaetz friend