Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg sentenced to 11 years in prison for charges including sex trafficking a minor

Gaetz Investigation-Associate (Orlando Sentinel)
Gaetz Investigation-Associate (Orlando Sentinel)

Joel Greenberg, a friend and business associate of US Representative Matt Gaetz, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for sex trafficking a minor and stalking a political opponent.

Greenberg became a person of public interest after the Justice Department announced it was investigating minor sex trafficking allegations against Mr Gaetz.

Mr Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing and no charges have been brought against the lawmaker.

Greenberg pleaded guilty to six federal crimes, which include sex trafficking of a minor, identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, and conspiracy to bribe a public official, according to court records.

"Nothing justifies my actions," Greenberg told the court on Thursday. "My conduct is so shameful. I feel remorse for what I’ve done."

Greenberg, who formerly served as the Seminole County tax collector, was arrested in 2020 for numerous charges, including stalking a political opponent, embezzling, and trafficking a girl between the ages of 14 and 17.

The former tax collector likely avoided a more substantial prison sentence due to his cooperation with authorities in other criminal investigations. Fritz Scheller, Greenberg’s attorney, noted his cooperation while arguing for a lighter sentence for his client.

According to Mr Scheller, Greenberg assisted in the investigations of 24 people, including eight who were accused of sex crimes. The attorney said that cooperation has led to four federal indictments with more likely on the way.

Mr Gaetz has since distanced himself from Greenberg, telling Florida ABC affiliate WEAR-TV in October that he regretted his friendship with the man.

"When I became aware of some of Greenberg’s misdeeds, I deeply regretted my friendship with him," he said. "I do believe that it’s fair for the people of northwest Florida to judge me based on the associations that I’ve had, and I deeply regret my association with Joel Greenberg politically, socially, and otherwise."