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Joel Greenberg, Former Matt Gaetz Confidant, Pleads Guilty

  • May 15, 2021

The friendship between Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Greenberg began in Republican political circles in Florida around the time Mr. Trump was elected president in 2016. Mr. Trump’s candidacy attracted many inexperienced politicians who were granted access to his campaign, including Mr. Gaetz and, to a lesser extent, Mr. Greenberg.

In the hopes of ingratiating himself with Mr. Gaetz and other well-connected Republicans in Florida, Mr. Greenberg has told others, he hired women to have sex with him, Mr. Gaetz and others through a website that connected people who go on dates in exchange for gifts, like fine dining, travel and allowances.

Mr. Greenberg first encountered the 17-year-old on the website, where she portrayed herself to him as an adult, according to the prosecutors’ account included in the court documents. Shortly after, Mr. Greenberg and the girl met on his boat. The two did not have sex but the girl was paid $400, and he paid her the same amount for a subsequent encounter at a hotel where they had sex.

Altogether, they had sex seven times in exchange for money before the girl turned 18, court papers said, and they took drugs several times.

“Greenberg often would offer and supply the minor and others with Ecstasy, which Greenberg would take himself as well,” according to the documents. “Oftentimes, Greenberg would offer to pay the minor and others an additional amount of money to take Ecstasy.”

Prosecutors also said that although the girl told him she was over 18, Mr. Greenberg had so many interactions with her over such an extended period of time that he should have known she was underage.

“Greenberg agrees and acknowledges that he acted in reckless disregard of the fact that the minor was less than 18 years old when he engaged in commercial sex acts with the minor and that Greenberg had ‘a reasonable opportunity to observe’ the minor” was under 18, according to the documents.

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