Defense lawyers often attack the credibility of these cooperators when the government uses them as witnesses in trials, sometimes arguing that they are simply testifying to what the government wants in return for leniency.
Mr Greenberg, 37, faces 12 years in prison. But if its cooperation results in prosecution against others, the justice ministry can file a petition with the judge in charge of its case to request a shorter sentence. According to court documents filed Friday, Mr. Greenberg could face perjury charges if he misleads investigators.
Mr. Greenberg’s plea is the latest chapter in his friendship with Mr. Gaetz, which began in Republican political circles in Florida when Mr. Trump was elected president in 2016. Mr. Trump’s candidacy has attracted many many inexperienced politicians who gained access. , including M. Gaetz and M. Greenberg.
Mr. Gaetz, the son of a former president of the Florida State Senate, was looking to develop a client base in the state and nationwide. Mr Greenberg, the son of a wealthy dentist, had struggled with drug addiction issues but defeated the longtime Seminole County, Florida tax collector in a primary to catapult his political career.
The Justice Department is investigating whether Rep. Matt Gaetz, Republican from Florida, broke federal sex trafficking laws.
- Mr. Gaetz, 38, was elected to Congress in 2016 and has become one of President Donald J. Trump’s staunchest supporters. The investigation focuses on the representative’s dealings with women recruited online for sex and whether he had sex with a 17-year-old girl.
- The investigation includes a review of payments to women he met through Joel Greenberg – a former Florida tax collector who was charged last year with federal sex trafficking, among other offenses. Mr. Greenberg is expected to plead guilty to federal charges, and he has spoken to federal investigators since last year about the conduct of Mr. Gaetz and others, according to two people briefed on the matter.
- The representative has repeatedly dismissed the investigation as politically motivated and unfounded, defending his past relationships with women. So far, he has not been charged and the extent of his criminal exposure remains uncertain. The investigation is continuing.
- Mr Gaetz said his family was being targeted by two men who tried to extort $ 25 million from him in exchange for “disappearing” possible legal problems. The men denied attempting to extort the Gaetz.
- In the last few weeks of the Trump administration, Mr. Gaetz has asked the White House for a general pardon for any criminal behavior he has committed, people familiar with his request have said. Trump’s aides vetoed the idea, and Mr. Trump said Mr. Gaetz never directly asked him for a pardon.
- Mr Gaetz told The Times he has no plans to resign from Congress. But as the investigation continues, he could face pressure to resign or temporarily relinquish his place on the House committee that oversees the Justice Department.
Hoping to have some fun with Mr. Gaetz and other well-connected Florida Republicans, Mr. Greenberg has told others he hired women to have sex with him, Mr. Gaetz and others via a website that matched people who have dates exchange gifts like fine dining, travel, and stipends. During these interactions, Mr. Greenberg told the others, that he and Mr. Gaetz had had sex with the 17-year-old; she had claimed to be over 18, but they later found out her age.
Mr Greenberg was first indicted in June on charges stemming from his attempts to undermine a political rival by spreading false rumors that the rival had had sex with a student. Two months later, he was charged with child sex trafficking. Mr. Greenberg faced more charges in the following months, increasing his criminal exposure.
He initially wanted to fight the charges, but towards the end of last year, when faced with the possibility that he could face decades in prison if convicted, he began to cooperate with the federal investigators. In meetings with investigators, he disclosed details of the range of crimes he had committed and explained how he, Mr Gaetz and others frequently paid women for sex.