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Associate of U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz to cooperate with prosecutors

WorldMay 14, 2021 08:21PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The crest of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is seen at their headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 10, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly 2/2

By Jan Wolfe and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A former Florida official central to the federal investigation into whether U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz committed sex trafficking of a minor will cooperate with investigators as part of a plea agreement, a court document submitted by prosecutors showed.

The former official, Joel Greenberg https://www.reuters.com/business/legal/friend-us-congressman-gaetz-expected-plead-guilty-sex-trafficking-case-court-2021-05-13, is set to plead guilty to crimes including sex-trafficking a minor - a relationship he described online as being a "sugar daddy" - and to introducing the minor to other adult men who engaged in sex acts with the minor in Greenberg's presence, court papers show. The papers do not identify the other adult men.

According to the plea agreement, Greenberg will admit to spending more than $70,000 in 150 transactions to pay for sex with the minor and others, who were 18 or older, as well as to giving the minor and others the illegal drug Ecstasy.

A plea hearing for Greenberg, a former tax collector in Florida's Seminole County, is scheduled for Monday in federal court in Orlando, Florida.

The plea deal marks a turning point in the sprawling federal investigation, which has roiled Florida politics and ensnared Gaetz, 39, one of former President Donald Trump's staunchest defenders in Congress.

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

Gaetz has not been charged with any crimes and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

"Congressman Gaetz doesn’t seem to be named nor referenced in Mr. Greenberg's plea," said Harlan Hill, a Gaetz spokesman. "Congressman Gaetz has never had sex with a minor and has never paid for sex."

Greenberg's lawyer, Fritz Scheller, suggested to reporters last month that Greenberg cooperating with federal investigators could have implications for Gaetz.

"I'm sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today," Scheller said in April, after a court hearing where prosecutors signaled a plea deal was imminent.

In a column published last month on the Washington Examiner website, Gaetz declared he had no plans to resign from Congress.

"There are exactly zero credible (or even non-credible) accusers willing to come forward by name and state on the public record that I behaved improperly toward them," Gaetz wrote.

Representative Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, said last month that the party would take action against Gaetz if the Justice Department formally charges him.

 

Associate of U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz to cooperate with prosecutors
 

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Comments (3)
Alan Rice
Alan Rice May 16, 2021 4:14PM ET
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GOP: Government Operated Prostitution.
Anthony Hughes
Anthony Hughes May 15, 2021 1:04AM ET
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To anybody who is still wearing a mask after getting vaccinated, please stop spreading misinformation and disinformation and being a science-denying pro-masker. The CDC, which is an authoritative source, has said that you do not need masks. Anybody who disagrees and says they will continue to wear a mask, or encourages others to do so, even after getting vaccinated is going against the science. They are probably Russian bots. Shame that we have such science deniers in society promoting mask use after getting a vaccine. They should be banned, de-platformed, and removed from the internet.
Adrian White
Adrian White May 15, 2021 1:04AM ET
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What's wrong if somebody still wants to wear a mask? That's like complaining about smokers refusing to smoke in front of you even though they're outside. They're not forcing you to wear a mask, so stop complaining.
Bob Collins
Bob Collins May 15, 2021 1:04AM ET
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People should be able to wear masks regardless of vacinnation status. If they want to slowly kill themselves by carbon CO2 poisoning and weaken their immune systems from constant ingestion and inhalation of bacteria, then that is their right in a free society where they are protected by the constitution.
Al Gore
Al Gore May 14, 2021 10:56PM ET
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very good
 
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