Joel Greenberg will pay almost $1.9 million to Seminole County

Arrest triggered investigation into US Rep. Matt Gaetz

SANFORD, Fla. – A former Florida tax collector whose arrest last year triggered an investigation into Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has agreed to pay almost $1.9 million in restitution for public money that was misspent during his time in office.

Joel Greenberg's attorney has reached a tentative, verbal agreement with officials in Seminole County to pay the sum, Seminole County Attorney Bryant Applegate told county commissioners Tuesday.

Greenberg’s attorney, Fritz Scheller, confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel that a settlement had been reached regarding Greenberg paying back money to the county.

“Mr. Greenberg is cooperating with both the federal and county governments toward the payment of restitution,” Scheller said.

Since Greenberg's arrest in June 2020, county attorneys have sought to claw back hundreds of thousands of dollars that a county audit said were either questionable or fraudulent spending of public money by the former Seminole County tax collector and friends and consultants he hired.

Greenberg is currently in jail awaiting sentencing in federal court next March. He is facing up to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty last May to six federal crimes, including sex trafficking of a child, identity theft, stalking, wire fraud and conspiracy to bribe a public official.

Greenberg’s plea agreement with prosecutors requires continued cooperation with an ongoing probe into sex trafficking. His cooperation could play a role in an ongoing investigation into Gaetz, a Republican who represents much of the Florida Panhandle. Gaetz was accused of paying a 17-year-old girl for sex. He has denied the allegations and previously said they were part of an extortion plot.