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Former FL Tax Collector Tied to Rep. Gaetz Gets 11-Year Term

Joel Greenberg, the former Florida tax collector whose arrest led to a federal probe of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for sex trafficking of a minor and other offenses, reports the Associated Press. Greenberg was accused of stalking a political opponent, public corruption, making fake licenses, and scheming to submit false claims for a federal loan. He pleaded guilty to six federal crimes, including identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, and conspiracy to bribe a public official. Prosecutors said he paid at least one girl to have sex with him and other men. “Nothing justifies my actions. My conduct is so shameful. I feel remorse for what I’ve done,” Greenberg said Thursday before U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell sentenced him in Orlando. Presnell said that in 22 years as a federal judge, he had never experienced a case like Greenberg’s and “a defendant who has committed so many different types of crimes in such a short period of time.” Greenberg’s attorney had asked for leniency, saying that his client had assisted in investigations of 24 people, including eight for sex crimes. Defense attorney Fritz Scheller said that Greenberg’s cooperation has led to four federal indictments and that he expected more in the coming month.

Greenberg’s cooperation could play a role in an investigation into whether his friend Gaetz paid a 17-year-old girl for sex. Gaetz has denied the allegations and said they were part of an extortion plot. No charges have been brought against Gaetz, who represents a large part of the Florida Panhandle. Greenberg has been linked to other Florida politicians and their associates. So far, none has been implicated in the sex trafficking investigation. Scheller said he was shocked that Greenberg’s cooperation hadn’t resulted in more prosecutions and that Greenberg has been communicating with federal investigators in the past three months. Federal prosecutors had asked for a significant reduction in Greenberg’s prison sentence, agreeing o a reduced range of nine years and three months to 11 years. U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg argued for the upper limit, telling the judge Greenberg abused trust to commit crimes. Scheller arguing he was making amends and was no longer the same person who committed the crimes. "Mr. Greenberg was using money and sex to get access to political circles,” Scheller said. “He came from a dark place, a lack of self-worth, and tried to ingratiate himself with a collection of people.”


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