Joel Greenberg, the former Florida official whose crimes in the state ensnared Rep. Matt Gaetz in a federal sex trafficking investigation, has been providing the Justice Department with new information as he continues to cooperate with authorities following a guilty plea earlier this year.
At a brief hearing in Orlando federal court Monday, Roger Handberg, an assistant US attorney, said that Greenberg has made allegations to investigators that “take us to some places we did not anticipate.”
“What investigators do is they follow up on that to try to corroborate the information that’s been provided,” Handberg said.
Greenberg, a former county tax commissioner and close friend of Gaetz’s, pleaded guilty to six charges in May, admitting that he had knowingly solicited and paid a minor for sex.
As part of his plea agreement, he was required to give “substantial assistance” to investigators as they build out related cases. His lawyer has said that Greenberg has held a series of proffers, or meetings, with the Justice Department.
Handberg did not say what investigations Greenberg was providing new information to authorities about, although CNN has reported that Greenberg has told the Justice Department about encounters he and Gaetz had with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex.
Greenberg faced dozens of criminal charges before his guilty plea, and the ongoing investigations related to him have also roped in a circle of local politicians and businessmen who authorities are scrutinizing for possible fraud.
In court Monday, Handberg called Greenberg a “prolific criminal.”
“Mr. Greenberg was not alone,” Handberg said.
Gaetz, who is also under investigation for obstruction of justice related to the investigation into him, has not been charged with a crime. He has repeatedly denied having sex with an underage woman.
The hearing was held following a request by Greenberg’s attorney to delay Greenberg’s sentencing for a second time so that he could continue to provide information. The Justice Department had not opposed the request.
Handberg called the need for a second delay “unusual” but added the department was in an “unusual situation given the number of different investigations and lines of investigation we are pursuing.”
He indicated this would be the last extension the Justice Department needed, and a judge agreed to move forward with a delay of the sentencing hearing until March.
Fritz Scheller, Greenberg’s lawyer, told the court Monday that the sentencing delay was “critical” to his client, so that he could provide prosecutors with all the relevant details he had. The Justice Department could seek a more lenient prison sentence for Greenberg based on the extent of his cooperation.
Over the summer, federal investigators continued to investigate contracts that Greenberg handed out to several associates while he served as the Seminole County Tax Collector, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Aspects of the investigations into potential financial crimes related to Greenberg have been handled in part by the US Secret Service and on Monday, an official from the agency sat in the courtroom with prosecutors.
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