A former Florida tax official appears close to striking a plea deal with federal prosecutors that could involve cooperation against Rep. Matt Gaetz, a federal judge was told on Thursday.
A lawyer for Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector for Seminole County, Florida with close ties to Gaetz, said at a court hearing that he expects a case against his client “to be resolved with a plea.”
The federal prosecutor handling the case concurred.
“We believe this case is going to be a plea,” Roger Handberg said at the hearing, according to Politico. “My hope would be that it is done this month.”
Greenberg was indicted last year on a slew of federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor, bribery and stalking. He was indicted last month on charges that he defrauded the Paycheck Protection Program.
Federal prosecutors are reportedly investigating whether Gaetz had an illegal relationship with a 17-year-old girl, and whether he trafficking her across state lines for sex. According to one report, the girl that Greenberg is alleged to have trafficked is the same one at the center of the Gaetz probe.
Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing and says he has never had a sexual relationship with anyone under the age of consent. He said in a statement on March 30 that his attorneys have been informed that he is a subject in a federal investigation, and not a target. (RELATED: Trump Responds To Report Matt Gaetz Asked For A Pardon)
But Fritz Scheller, the lawyer for Greenberg, suggested during a press conference after the hearing that his client has incriminating information against Gaetz, a close ally of Donald Trump.
“I’m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today,” the attorney told reporters.
When asked whether Greenberg has a “bargaining chip” to use in negotiations with prosecutors in the Gaetz probe, Scheller said only that his client was “uniquely situated” to provide information in any plea agreement.
Earlier on Thursday, female staffers who work for Gaetz released a statement supporting the lawmaker.
“Congressman Gaetz has always been a principled and morally grounded leader,’ reads the letter.
“At no time has any one of us experienced or witnessed anything less than the utmost professionalism and respect. No hint of impropriety. No ounce of untruthfulness. In our office and under Congressman Gaetz’s leadership, women are not only respected, but have been encouraged time and time again to grow, achieve more, and ultimately, know our value.”
Luke Ball, the communications director for Gaetz, resigned his position Friday. Gaetz’s office did not respond to a request for comment about Scheller’s statement.
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