Friend of pro-Trump MP pleads guilty to sex trafficking | Children’s rights news


Joel Greenberg pleads guilty to trafficking a minor as the investigation deepens into Representative Matt Gaetz’s conduct with underage girls.

Florida politician who has become a central figure in the Department of Justice sex trafficking investigation in Republican Representative Matt Gaetz pleaded guilty Monday to six federal counts and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors under a plea deal.

Joel Greenberg, a longtime associate of Gaetz, appeared in federal court in Orlando, Florida. He pleaded guilty to six of the nearly three dozen charges he faced, including sex trafficking a minor, and he admitted he paid at least one underage girl to have sex with him and other men.

Gaetz, a ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, was not mentioned in either the plea agreement or during the hearing.

But Greenberg’s cooperation – as a key figure in the investigation and a close ally of Gaetz – may compound the potential legal and political liability that Florida lawmakers face.

Representative Matt Gaetz addresses the crowd at a President Donald Trump campaign rally at Ocala International Airport on October 16, 2020 in Ocala, Florida [File: Phelan M Ebenhack/AP Photo]

Federal prosecutors are considering whether Gaetz and Greenberg paid minors or gave them gifts in exchange for sex, according to two people familiar with the matter.

People were aware of the investigation but were not allowed to publicly discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Investigators are looking to determine whether Gaetz had sex with the same 17-year-old Greenberg was accused of trafficking, according to reports and a police source who spoke to Reuters.

Investigators also investigated whether Gaetz and his associates attempted to secure government jobs for some of the women, people said. They are also examining Gaetz’s ties to the medical cannabis industry, particularly whether his associates have sought to influence legislation sponsored by Gaetz.

Greenberg’s attorney, Fritz Scheller, suggested to reporters last month that Greenberg’s cooperation with federal investigators could have implications for Gaetz.

“I’m sure Matt Gaetz doesn’t feel very comfortable today,” Scheller said in April, after a hearing in which prosecutors signaled a plea deal was imminent.

Gaetz has denied the allegations and any accusations of wrongdoing and has repeatedly said he will not resign from Congress. A spokesperson said Gaetz “had never had sex with a minor and had never paid for sex.”





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