Joel Greenberg, a former friend of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), pled guilty today on multiple charges including sex trafficking a minor, ID theft, stalking, and fraud, according to Politico.
Part of the deal involves Greenberg’s agreement to cooperate with prosecutors. Some on the left and in media have immediately jumped on that as bad news for Gaetz. Gaetz has denied that he did anything wrong and has not been charged.
While the plea agreement alleges that other men had sex with a 17-year-old victim, those men are not named in the agreement and there are few details alleged in the agreement. That may be an indication that they haven’t had much of a proffer of information from Greenberg yet, although, in order to get an agreement, one would think he would have had to make some form of a proffer. The question is what it was. David Oscar Markus, a veteran federal defense attorney, suggested to Politico that the paucity of information might be an indication that there was little evidence being offered by Greenberg that might implicate Gaetz.
Harlan Hill, a Gaetz spokesperson, put down the speculation observing that “Joel Greenberg has now confessed to falsely accusing an innocent man of having sex with a minor,” which is also true.
Greenberg also admitted to stalking Brian Buete, a political opponent who ran against him in the 2020 primary election.
Greenberg admitted to posing as one of Buete’s students by writing a letter to Buete’s school, Trinity Preparatory Academy, detailing a fake sexual relationship between the two.
So obviously as a potential witness, Greenberg has some substantial issues. It’s clear also that Greenberg is trying to do what he can to reduce a long prison sentence.
Greenberg’s attorney had previously tried to dangle the possibility of Gaetz out there, at least in public, to entice a deal for his client.
“I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.” — Fritz Scheller, attorney for Joel Greenberg, associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
(Greenberg is expected to take a plea deal with federal prosecutors in his own criminal case.) pic.twitter.com/Bz1PLWBuv4
— The Recount (@therecount) April 8, 2021
He then basically confessed that after the deal. “I had a certain agenda, which I accomplished.” So he used the media salivation over Gaetz to jack a deal for his client. But now he’s not commenting specifically on anything in regards to Gaetz.
Fritz Scheller, attorney for Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg, on whether his statement about Gaetz “not feeling very comfortable” still stands:
“I had a certain agenda, which I accomplished. This time I will leave that up to Matt Gaetz’s attorneys to answer …” pic.twitter.com/nfQc9s9qwg
— The Recount (@therecount) May 17, 2021
Politico also seems to think what they have is lacking.
In a sign that Greenberg’s cooperation is likely not enough to make a case against Gaetz, federal prosecutors are in talks for an immunity deal with his former girlfriend that seeks her cooperation. She has not spoken personally to investigators and her lawyer, Tim Jansen, has refused comment about what she would have to say, if anything, about any alleged crimes of the congressman.
So we will have to wait to see how it spools out further, but it sounds like there are a lot of problems with any potential case.