Key figure in Matt Gaetz probe likely cooperating with federal prosecutors

Source: Politico | April 8, 2021 | Josh Gerstein

“I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today,” said Joel Greenberg’s defense attorney.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The legal peril Rep. Matt Gaetz is facing appeared to increase sharply Thursday after a court hearing indicated that one of Gaetz’s close friends, former Seminole County, Fla., tax collector Joel Greenberg, is likely cooperating with federal prosecutors.

The potentially ominous development for the close ally of former President Donald Trump came as prosecutors and a defense attorney for Greenberg appeared before a judge here to discuss the next steps in a recently expanded criminal case charging Greenberg with sex trafficking of a minor, as well as stalking, bribery and defrauding the pandemic-related Paycheck Protection Program.

“I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today,” said Greenberg’s defense attorney, Fritz Scheller, after the hearing.

The federal probe looking into whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her travel began last year and grew out of the Greenberg investigation.

“We believe this case is going to be a plea,” federal prosecutor Roger Handberg said at the outset of the brief hearing. “My hope would be that it is done this month.”

Scheller agreed that his client is looking to deal. “I expect this case to be resolved with a plea,” the defense lawyer said moments later.

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