Matt Gaetz associate pleads guilty in sex-trafficking case, will cooperate with feds

Joel Greenberg, the former Florida tax official whose criminal case led to a sex trafficking investigation of Rep. Matt Gaetz, pleaded guilty Monday to six of the charges against him and acknowledged that he plans to fully cooperate with federal investigators.

Wearing a jail jumpsuit and a blue surgical mask and in shackles, Greenberg admitted his guilt to six of the 33 charges initially filed against him — identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, conspiracy to bribe a public official and sex trafficking of a minor.

Asked by the judge in Orlando federal court if all the counts against him were factual, he repeatedly said “yes” and “I do.”

Greenberg’s plea could spell trouble for Gaetz. Greenberg is an associate of the Florida Republican congressman, and federal officials are looking into whether the two used the internet to find women they could pay for sex and whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a minor he paid to travel with him, The New York Times reported, citing three people briefed on the matter.

Gaetz, an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime.

Gaetz appeared to make light of the scandal while speaking to a group of Republican activists over the weekend, saying the accusations against him aren’t as bad as the return of earmarks in Congress.

“I’m being falsely accused of exchanging money for naughty favors,” Gaetz said at the Ohio Political Summit. “Yet, Congress has reinstituted a process that legalizes the corrupt act of exchanging money for favors, through earmarks, and everybody knows that that’s the corruption.”

The remarks came one day after Greenberg’s plea agreement was filed in court. Documents filed in connection with the plea agreement do not mention Gaetz, and the congressman was not mentioned in court Monday.

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