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Tag: gaetz investigation

Gaetz's Ex-Girlfriend Testifies Before Grand Jury In Sex Crimes Probe

A federal grand jury heard testimony on Wednesday from the ex-girlfriend of Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who is currently under investigation by the Justice Department for possible sex crimes.

NBC News was first to report the development and noted that the cooperation between the woman and federal prosecutors has been ongoing for several months. To protect her privacy, her name has not been disclosed; her cooperation is part of her effort to secure immunity.

Gaetz has not been charged with any crimes and has staunchly denied the swirling allegations. But it is believed, according to a wide variety of reported sources with insider knowledge, that Gaetz is under scrutiny for a trio of crimes including obstructing justice, sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl, and violating the Mann Act—a law that bars the transport of minors over state lines.

Neither Gaetz nor the Justice Department immediately returned a request for comment Wednesday.

The probe into the Florida Republican’s conduct has been ongoing for more than a year. It started when former Seminole County, Florida tax collector and friend to Gaetz, Joel Greenberg, was charged with a variety of unsavory crimes including sex trafficking a minor, identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, and conspiracy to bribe a public official. Greenberg pleaded guilty last summer and began cooperating with investigators to reduce his sentence.

Gaetz, it was revealed last April, sent Greenberg $900 over Venmo in May 2018. The very next day and over just a few minutes, Greenberg used Venmo to send the funds to three girls. The total Greenberg sent? $900.

Gaetz, in the memo portion for a cash transfer to Greenberg first wrote “test” and then “hit up ____.” The blank section, according to The Daily Beast, was not blank in the Venmo transfer memo, but rather it featured the nickname of a girl who was one of the recipients of the cash. Because she was a minor at the time, the nickname was not disclosed.

Greenberg, when paying out the $900 listed it as “tuition” and “school” in the memo.

Politico was first to report that Gaetz was the subject of an obstruction inquiry last June, citing two sources who said that this part of the probe began only after a former girlfriend of the congressman patched Gaetz into a phone call she had with a witness to the alleged sex crimes. That witness has since talked to prosecutors. Their testimony could be instrumental in shaping how prosecutors will charge Gaetz, if at all.

One of the alleged sex trafficking victims has told prosecutors Gaetz had sex with her when she was a minor and paid for the exchange. There have also been questions around Gaetz’s trip to the Bahamas in 2018, when he served as an adviser to Florida’s now-governor Ron DeSantis.

According to a Politico report from April, a young woman central to the trafficking probe was on a 2018 flight to the Bahamas courtesy of Halsey Beshears, then a top regulator working in Florida’s state government, and Jason Pirozzolo, a DeSantis gubernatorial campaign fundraiser. Bashears, Pirozzollo, and Gaetz were meeting in the Bahamas. Instead of flying with the women, Gaetz flew commercial.

While a source told Politico at the time that the women were all of age on the private flight, the report noted: “But questions surrounding the ages of some of the women surfaced immediately upon their return—three of them looked so young when they returned on Beshears’ private plane that U.S. Customs briefly stopped and questioned him, according to sources familiar with the trip, including a woman on the flight.”

News has been slow to trickle out about the career-jeopardizing investigation. In October, however, it was revealed that additional prosecutors—who specialize in sex trafficking—were added to the probe into the Florida congressman.

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

More Bad News For Gaetz As Crony’s Sentencing Is Postponed Again

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

A well-known former federal prosecutor is weighing in on the latest news about ex-Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, who has pleaded guilty to seven felony counts including the sex trafficking of a minor.

Greenberg, a close friend of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) who he once called his "wingman," has been awaiting sentencing. He was originally charged with 33 criminal counts, but in May entered into a plea agreement.

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Gaetz Crony Greenberg Asks To Delay Sentencing While He Aids Prosecutors

ORLANDO, Fla. — Former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg has asked a judge to delay his sentencing on six federal charges, citing his ongoing cooperation with authorities as part of a plea deal he struck in May. Greenberg's sentencing is currently slated for Aug. 19. But in a motion filed Tuesday, his attorney, Fritz Scheller, asked to delay the hearing for 90 days. Scheller said his client, a close associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), has been cooperating with the government on an ongoing basis, having already participated in “a series of" interviews, known as proffers, with federal authorities. “Said cooperation, which could ...

Gaetz's Patronage Of Medical Marijuana Industry Now Subject Of Criminal Probe

Prior to Florida's legalization of medical marijuana, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was at the center of the proposed efforts to pass legislation. For years, he was also a fierce advocate for medical marijuana, but with the onslaught of investigations he is currently facing, there are also questions about his motivation for getting the legislation passed.

According to The Tampa Bay Times, just hours after the marijuana bill was passed, lawmakers incorporated an amended version of the bill that included a stipulation on who could apply and benefit from the billion-dollar income opportunity.The distinct change led to questions about conflicts of interest that may have motivated Gaetz. Several of Gaetz's close friends benefited from that stipulation.

Per the Tampa Bay Times, here is a short list of Gaetz's close associates and friends who benefited from the marijuana bill:

"— The brother of Gaetz's friend and fellow state Rep. Halsey Beshears, who co-founded one of Florida's first licensed marijuana companies and amassed a fortune currently valued at about $600 million — and became a major Republican Party donor.

— A Panhandle developer and client of Gaetz's law firm who invested in another of the state's first marijuana licensees and who, according to financial and court records, roughly tripled his money in two years.

— Ballard Partners, a prominent Tallahassee lobbying firm, which until recently employed former state Rep. Chris Dorworth, whom Gaetz once described as his legislative "mentor." The firm was given investment interests in at least three companies that eventually won marijuana licenses, and is now earning $160,000 a year in lobbying fees from a fourth.

— Another of Gaetz's friends, Orlando hand doctor Jason Pirozzolo, who helped craft that 2014 legislation and then started several marijuana businesses, including a consulting firm that worked with companies applying for marijuana licenses and a professional association that sells sponsorships to marijuana vendors."

Due to the number of people connected to Gaetz who have benefited from Florida's medical marijuana bill, investigators are working to determine if he received gifts or any form of compensation for his work to pass the marijuana legislation. Another aspect centers on the fact that all four are connected to the investigative probe into Gaetz's close friend, former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg.

Gaetz's spokesperson Harlan Hill released a statement in response to the speculation, insisting the Republican lawmaker never received any gifts or items of value in exchange for his work to pass legislation on marijuana policy.

"While drafting Florida's initial medical marijuana law in 2014 with State Senator Rob Bradley, Gaetz had no knowledge that any of the people named in your story would seek to enter the industry," Hill said.

"Congressman Gaetz has never accepted a gift or any other thing of value in exchange for his work on marijuana policy," Hill added. "Congressman Gaetz's support for marijuana reform is rooted solely in his support for the Americans whose lives can be made better, healthier and easier through the use of marijuana. He looks forward to continuing this work in Congress."