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Gaetz probe started with an associate awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking, stalking charges

A sexual intercourse trafficking probe into Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., began with an investigation into an affiliate of his who’s awaiting demo on trafficking, stalking and identity fraud prices.

The affiliate, Joel Micah Greenberg — whom Gaetz when instructed must run for Congress in their residence point out of Florida — was hit with more expenses Wednesday stemming from his three years as an elected county tax official.

“Greenberg applied his placement as Seminole County Tax Collector to have interaction in, and facilitate, the fee of federal offenses, like sexual intercourse trafficking of a kid, illegally getting personal information from a motor car file … illegally creating identification and untrue identification files, aggravated id theft, wire fraud and money laundering,” federal prosecutors claimed in the newly unsealed 3rd superseding indictment.

A call to Greenberg’s legal professional has not been returned. Greenberg has pleaded not guilty to the trafficking, stalking and identity fraud charges, and is scheduled to be arraigned on the wire fraud and money laundering charges subsequent 7 days.

Law enforcement officers confirmed to NBC Information that the investigation into Gaetz, who has not been charged, originated from the investigation into Greenberg, which has taken various turns due to the fact he was arrested in June of final calendar year for allegedly sliming a rival tax collector prospect.

Gaetz denied any wrongdoing in a assertion on Tuesday night and yet again all through an job interview with Fox News. “No section of the allegations from me are accurate,” he said.

Greenberg and Gaetz, both of those Republicans, were being elected to their careers in 2016. The extent of their marriage is unclear. The Orlando Sentinel reported Greenberg had explained Gaetz to previous staff as a shut close friend who would typically visit his home.

Gaetz posted a photograph of himself on Fb at evening meal with Greenberg and former Trump adviser Roger Stone in 2017, and referred to Greenberg as a “2nd Modification champion.”

In 2019, Greenberg tweeted a picture of himself and Gaetz in entrance of the White Property. Greenberg tweeted a photograph of his younger daughter with Gaetz and then-President Donald Trump and his spouse Melania Trump that similar day.

Gaetz donated $1,000 to Greenberg’s re-election exertion in June of past 12 months, and stated in 2017 that he’d be a terrific candidate for Congress mainly because he’d taken the tax collector’s workplace “by storm.”

“He’s been a disruptor,” Gaetz advised WFLA radio.

Greenberg’s tenure was turbulent. There have been phone calls for him to resign from his $150,000-a-year submit in 2018 immediately after a derogatory tweet about Muslims, and a Muslim staff later on settled a discrimination suit towards him.

He was accused of misusing his authority by pulling about a woman for speeding and flashing his tax collector badge as if he were a law enforcement officer in December of 2017. Prosecutors mentioned he did not crack any regulations in the incident, but described his steps as inappropriate.

A thirty day period right after that incident, he tried using unsuccessfully to use his posture to get out of a rushing ticket himself in an trade that was captured by a law enforcement system digital camera.

He also licensed some of his staffers to carry guns — a directive that was later overruled by then-state Attorney General Pam Bondi.

A 2019 Orlando Sentinel investigation confirmed his office had doled out more than $3 million in contracts to organization associates, associates, family buddies and at least a 50 %-dozen individuals who had attended his wedding. An audit later showed he’d misspent above $5 million in taxpayer dollars in the course of his 3 decades in workplace, which includes $384,000 on physique armor, weapons, ammunition, and a drone with thermal imaging abilities, according to Spectrum News 13. He also produced a safety pressure that was later dissolved, the audit claimed.

He created headlines yet again in April of previous 12 months, when he used Twitter to urge persons to rebel in opposition to pandemic-related limits. “Time to disobey the orders,” he wrote. He stated a month afterwards that he’d contracted the virus.

He resigned in June of last yr right after he was arrested for allegedly making use of phony identities to smear a teacher who was demanding his re-election bid.

Greenberg “caused a Twitter account to be set up using the title and photograph of the university staff,” and then “caused postings to be built employing that account that represented that the school worker was a segregationist and in favor of white supremacy,” prosecutors claimed in court filings.

He also posed on the web as instructor and a university student at the faculty wherever the individual worked to accuse him of having engaged in “sexual misconduct with a pupil,” and despatched letters in to the university as properly, prosecutors explained.

When he was arrested, investigators said they located a number of bogus IDs that he’d made applying his job’s entry to the point out motor automobile databases. Prosecutors said the married father of two also utilized the database to appear up information and facts on ladies he was “included in ‘sugar daddy’ associations with.”

Greenberg also utilized that info to deliver phony driver’s licenses for himself and a girl who was in excess of 14 but underneath 18. Prosecutors say which is the female he “did knowingly … recruit, entice, get, keep, patronize and solicit” among Might 2017 to November 2017. His lawyer at time, Vincent Citro, explained to the Sentinel, “We unquestionably deny the allegations.”

The new expenses unsealed Wednesday contain allegations that he embezzled over $400,000 from the Tax Collector’s office environment “to reward himself individually.”

The indictment also costs that Greenberg applied money from the office environment to invest in personalized products for himself, including “autographed Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant memorabilia.”

Greenberg had been out on bond immediately after his arrest, but was requested locked up on March 3, for violating the terms of his curfew, court docket information clearly show. The Sentinel claimed he’d driven to his mom-in-law’s rental hunting for his wife. A call to Greenberg’s legal professional was not returned.

Greenberg has pleaded not responsible to the former indictments and is at the moment scheduled to stand demo in federal courtroom in Orlando in June. He is scheduled to be arraigned on the added rates on April 9.