- Joel Greenberg attempted to use his relationship with Representative Matt Gaetz to secure a pardon from Trump, Politico reports.
- Greenberg faces a slew of federal charges for crimes including sex trafficking of a minor.
- Gaetz is also under federal investigation for sex trafficking and paying women for sex.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
Florida politician Joel Greenberg tried to pressure prominent GOP representative Matt Gaetz to secure President Donald Trump’s pardon, Politico reported.
Greenberg and Gaetz, close allies in Florida and staunch Trump supporters, are now under close scrutiny by the Justice Department for the potential sex trafficking of a minor.
Two sources told Politico that Greenberg has spoken on several occasions of pressuring Gaetz to use his relationship with Trump to ask for forgiveness. Gaetz refused to confirm or deny whether Greenberg requested a pardon, but denied passing the requests on to Trump.
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Politico also reported that in the days leading up to his August 2020 sex trafficking charge, a panicked Greenberg told an associate via the encrypted WhatsApp messaging app that prosecutors were focusing on his Venmo dealings with the woman, who ‘he called it “vintage 99.”
Politico said the nickname, a reference to the woman’s year of birth, was her display name on the dating site SeekingArrangement, where primarily young women seek relationships with “sugar daddies.” The woman, who Politico did not name due to her status as a potential victim of crime, did not return media requests for comment.
“I have to pay for the vintage 99 to keep [a] lawyer, ”Greenberg wrote to the person Politico described as a powerful state Republican. [federal agents] contacted her and want her to talk. She doesn’t want to talk to them. “
The person on the other end of the conversation didn’t want to be tied to Greenberg’s growing problems with the law, telling Politico that the whole exchange “felt like a setup.”
“I have nothing to do with anything and I think it’s unbelievably uncool that you are trying to advocate for me to be a part of it, Joel,” he said in messages obtained by Politico, where he denied even having a Venmo account. or know the woman in question. “No. F – king. Cool.”
Greenberg, the former Seminole County Republican tax collector, currently faces a total of 33 federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor, stalking a rival candidate for the office of the tax collector, aggravated identity theft, fabrication of false identity documents, wire fraud, illegality. money transfers involving Bitcoin and conspiracy to bribe a Small Business Administration official to obtain fraudulent COVID-19 relief loans.
The charge of sex trafficking carries a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison for life.
The Justice Department is also investigating Gaetz for illegal sex trafficking of a minor or women paying for sex, an investigation that began under the Trump administration and appears to have stemmed from the extensive investigations into Greenberg. Gaetz, who has yet to be charged with a crime, has denied engaging in any illegal activity.
In December 2020 and January 2021, Trump pardoned or commuted the sentences of several of his political allies, including Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, the father of his son-in-law Charles Kushner and former representatives. Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter, two of his early supporters, with Hunter’s wife.
Greenberg and his lawyers are expected to reach a plea deal with prosecutors within the next month. Former DOJ officials recently told Insider’s Sonam Sheth that the scale and gravity of the charges against Greenberg made him cooperate against potential associates in his alleged crimes, increasing the potential legal risk to Gaetz. .
“It’s the same playbook he used against the teacher he falsely called a pedophile,” the Republican said on the other end of the WhatsApp conversation to Politico, referring to the charge of criminal harassment. “And he’ll do the same to Gaetz if he can get less jail time.”