- The probe into Rep. Matt Gaetz is linked to his associate Joel Greenberg, per several reports.
- Greenberg is a former county tax official charged with a slew of crimes including sex trafficking.
- Gaetz has denied allegations he was involved in a sexual relationship with a 17-year old.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The investigation into allegations that Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz trafficked a teen girl emerged from a probe into an associate who worked as a tax official and is charged with sex trafficking and stalking, according to several reports.
Three sources told NBC News on Thursday that the probe into the Congressman emerged from the investigation into Orlando-area former tax collector Joel Greenberg.
The connection between the investigations was first reported by The New York Times on Wednesday.
Gaetz has strenuously denied the allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, possibly breaking sex trafficking laws.
He said the allegations are part of a plot to extort him and his family.
The Greenberg case goes back to June 2020, when he was arraigned on federal charges including sex trafficking, identity theft and stalking, prompting his resignation as the tax collector for Florida’s Seminole County, an elected position.
Federal prosecutors allege that he trafficked a minor with whom he was engaged in a “sugar daddy” sexual relationship. They also claim he launched a smear campaign against a rival for his job whom he falsely accused of sexual misconduct.
On Wednesday new charges were filed against Greenberg, with investigators alleging that he committed wire fraud and money laundering, and misused a pandemic loan, according to News 6 WKMG, an Orlando news channel.
Greenberg pleaded not guilty to the initial charges, and is scheduled to be arraigned on the more recent charges next week, reported NBC News.
It is not clear exactly how the Gaetz case and the case against Greenberg tie together
Greenberg was elected as a tax official in Seminole in 2016, displacing an official who had held the position for three decades and who was embroiled in a real estate controversy, The Orlando Sentinel reported.
The association between Greenberg and Gaetz is known partly from pictures posted by Greenberg on social media.
In 2017 Greenberg posted a picture of himself, Greenberg and veteran political “dirty tricks” specialist Roger Stone.
In 2019 Greenberg posted a picture of himself and Gaetz, a prominent ally of former President Donald Trump, outside the White House.
Gaetz championed Greenberg for a potential run for Congress in 2017, describing him as a “disruptor” in an interview with local radio station WFLA.
Greenberg’s tenure as a tax collector was marked by a series of headline-making scandals. He was accused of using his tax official badge to pull over a motorist he accused of speeding, and misusing public funds, reported Spectrum News 13.
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