CNN

Former Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg pleads guilty to six federal charges

May 17, 2021, 9:13 AM | Updated: May 24, 2021, 2:14 pm
May 14, 2021, USA: Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg talks to the Orlando Sentine...
May 14, 2021, USA: Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg talks to the Orlando Sentinel in September 2019, during an interview at his office in Lake Mary. (Credit Image: © TNS via ZUMA Wire)
(Credit Image: © TNS via ZUMA Wire)

    (CNN) — Joel Greenberg, an indicted close confidant of Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, formally pleaded guilty on Monday morning to six federal charges in a court hearing, admitting to a federal judge that he had knowingly solicited and paid a minor for sex.

Greenberg spoke sparingly throughout the 45-minute hearing and with a tone of dejection, responding “yes” and “I do” as the judge read the details of his plea agreement. He wore a dark jumpsuit and had his hands shackled in front of him.

The guilty plea from Greenberg, a former Seminole County, Florida, tax commissioner, comes several days after he struck a deal with federal prosecutors to avoid some of the other 33 federal charges he had faced that ranged from identity theft to fraud and bribery allegations.

As part of the plea, Greenberg has agreed to give “substantial assistance” to prosecutors, including by testifying at trials or in federal grand juries if needed and in turning over all documents he might have that could help the federal inquiry.

The Greenberg plea documents released Friday document how he used popular cellphone apps to make contacts, paid thousands of dollars for sex with younger women, had drug-laced, multi-person rendezvous at hotels and repeatedly took advantage of his public office’s power and financial coffers.

Federal investigators are still examining whether Gaetz broke federal sex trafficking, prostitution and public corruption laws and whether he had sex with a minor.

Gaetz has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing.

The congressman isn’t mentioned in the 86 pages of plea deal documents released last Friday, something his spokesman, Harlan Hill, pointed to on Friday when he again insisted on his client’s innocence in a statement.

Greenberg’s admitted sex charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, yet prosecutors in the plea deal said that if he helped them significantly, he may be able get a sentence less than the minimum.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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Former Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg pleads guilty to six federal charges