Keeping up with the other Republican scandal that broke open back in March, involving Matt Gaetz and his criminal buddies here in the Sunshine State, today the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Joel Greenberg will plead out to six charges in federal court this Monday, setting up the case against Gaetz (and possibly others in his circle of local powerbros) covering drugs, payoffs to women, and sex with at least one underaged teen (story by Monivette Corderio, Jeff Weiner, Jason Garcia, Martin E Comas, and Annie Martin):
Days before he was first arrested for stalking a political rival (wait what), Joel Greenberg was in the midst of preparing a fraudulent application for a COVID-19 relief loan (wait what), with the help of a government employee he’d later bribe (you gotta be kidding me). If there was any doubt of his untoward intentions for the aid funds, Greenberg erased it with a text message.
“How quickly can I blow it all on p-ssy?” he asked...
This was the opening lede, people!
Greenberg, Seminole County’s disgraced former tax collector, will plead guilty to six federal crimes — including sex trafficking of a child — in a deal that calls for him to cooperate with federal investigators in the “investigation and prosecution of other persons,” according to an agreement released Friday.
The 86-page document laid bare the remarkable brazenness of Greenberg’s behavior. On his first day in elected office, he sought to cover up a federal crime he’d committed years earlier. He spent hundreds of thousands of tax office dollars on Bitcoin — then borrowed from family to pay it back. He spent thousands on more drugs and sex — including with a 17-year-old girl...
This guy was so bent I doubt he was ever straight.
In addition to trafficking, Greenberg will plead to charges of identity theft, stalking, wire fraud and conspiracy to bribe a public official. Prior to striking a deal, he was facing 33 federal charges. Prosecutors will drop the other 27 counts filed against him...
Just try to remember this, peeps: Greenberg is pleading to the bare minimum the prosecutors wanted to stick to his resume. In most cases to get a plea deal to testify, they'll break it down to one half-decent felony to show the subject will still face some level of accountability, while making sure they show enough mercy to encourage clean testimony. They had so much shit on Greenberg that they HAD to keep these six charges on him and he still had no room to beg for more leniency. The sex offender charge is something that is going to wrap about Greenberg like an albatross for the rest of his days, and this is the lightest they're going to go on him.
All because Greenberg can give the feds even bigger fish to fry. Matt Gaetz as U.S. Representative is a high-profile person, and if even a tenth of the stories coming out about him are provable he's a high-profile hypocritical scuzbucket due to succumb to his karmic fate. And Gaetz is not alone: Greenberg has ties to a lot of other Florida officials involving a number of financial criminal favors on top of the sex trafficking that likely went on within that political clique.
Fellow Floridian Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice is enjoying the schadenfreude ("Let there be perp walks!"):
Greenberg is pleading guilty to some mighty serious charges, and one hopes he does hard time for those crimes regardless of his level of cooperation. He sounds like a psychopath who should be off the streets for public safety reasons. But here’s hoping he’s got tons of evidence that can help the feds nail Gaetz — and who knows, maybe take down some other prominent Republican sleazebags at the same time.
There are two reasons to believe Greenberg does have a ton of dirt on Gaetz and possibly others. Number one, Greenberg seems pretty fucking stupid. Case in point: he left electronic trails and physical evidence all over the place when he was paying “escorts,” attempting to frame political rivals for crimes he himself committed, abusing power, committing fraud, etc.
The dumb motherfucker actually managed to set a county building on fire by overheating servers purchased with public funds to launder bitcoin money from his side hustle. Einstein he is not!
The second reason to believe Greenberg may have the goods is that, like many criminals, Greenberg was apparently super-paranoid about being crossed. The stories about him trying to get a pardon from Trump via Roger Stone included the detail that Greenberg took screenshots of conversations with Stone on an encrypted messaging app Stone used expressly to avoid electronic trails...
We should notice this particular trend of the same scuzbags - Hello again, Roger! - who keep popping up in these Republican scandals. They're all so interlinked with each other they might as well wear matching sports jackets.
If we look at how this will affect Gaetz, it all depends on what Greenberg can bring to the table. As Betty notes, Greenberg left a lot of evidence in his wake, so much so that the federal investigators probably have enough of a case to arrest Gaetz right after his cohort pleads out on Monday. The only reason to have Greenberg testify is due to how legal cases are presented in our system: It helps to have actual eyewitnesses corroborate the documentation and blow down whatever legal defense that Gaetz's lawyers are bound to argue.
How much of this affects the state-level Republicans depends on how much destruction Gaetz will attempt to save his own hide when it's his turn before a judge and jury. It depends on how much he's on the hook for and how willing he'll be to turn state's evidence against his fratbro buddies who were enjoying the same hookers-and-blow parties he threw right up until the damn bill came due.
Popcorn GIFs, anyone?