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Matt Gaetz partner Joel Greenberg set to strike plea deal in sex trafficking case

U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida on February 26, 2021.

Octavio Jones | Reuters

Joel Greenberg, a former Florida County tax collector and partner of GOP Representative Matt Gaetz, is expected to strike a plea deal in his criminal case, his attorney and prosecutors said Thursday, NBC News reported.

The case against Greenberg – who had previously pleaded not guilty to charges such as sex trafficking of a minor, criminal harassment, wire fraud and identity theft – led federal investigators to launch an investigation into a possible sex trafficking by Gaetz, several media reported.

The signal for an upcoming plea deal came at a status conference in Greenberg’s case in Orlando. Defense attorney and prosecutors have not said whether Greenberg should cooperate with the Gaetz investigation, according to NBC.

“I’m sure Matt Gaetz isn’t feeling very comfortable today,” Greenberg attorney Fritz Scheller told reporters Thursday afternoon.

Scheller declined to answer when a reporter asked, “Did your client introduce Matt Gaetz to underage girls for sex?”

A Gaetz spokeswoman did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Scheller’s comments.

The New York Times first reported last month that the Justice Department was investigating whether Gaetz had sex with a 17 year old girl and paid for her trips with him.

NBC reported on Wednesday that investigators are investigating whether women were paid to travel to the Bahamas with Gaetz for sex, and whether Gaetz and Greenberg used the internet to search for women they could pay for sex.

Gaetz strongly denied the Times’ “horrific” allegations, and said in an editorial Monday that he was “absolutely not resign” from Congress.

Gaetz also claimed he was the victim of a multi-million dollar extortion scheme involving a former DOJ official. Law enforcement sources told NBC that a separate investigation is underway into the allegations of extortion.

A Gaetz spokesperson told CBS News on Wednesday night that the congressman “never paid for sex or had sex with an underage. Which started with headlines on “sex trafficking” has turned into a general fishing exercise over vacations. and consensual relationships with adults. “

On Thursday afternoon, Gaetz shared a statement from his office, which defends the beleaguered Republican as “a principled and morally grounded leader” and vows to “stand by his side.”

This statement is attributed to the “women of Congressman Matt Gaetz’s office” and does not name any specific member of his staff.

Meanwhile, Gaetz’s former adviser Nathan Nelson said on Monday he was approached by FBI agents and questioned about the alleged involvement of the GOP legislator in illegal activities.

Nelson told reporters he had never seen such illegal behavior and that his departure from Gaetz’s office last fall was unrelated to the DOJ investigation, which allegedly began in the final months of his mandate. of former President Donald Trump.

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