Former Seminole County tax collector accused of stealing $400,000 in taxpayer money

Cryptocurrency, sports memorabilia among purchases made, prosecutors say

Former Seminole County tax collector accused of stealing $400,000 in taxpayer money
Former Seminole County tax collector accused of stealing $400,000 in taxpayer money

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg now faces 21 new federal charges, in addition to the 12 he was already facing.

The superseding indictment was filed on Tuesday, according to court records.

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The new charges include nine counts of wire fraud. According to prosecutors, Greenberg diverted more than $400,000 in tax collector funds for his own personal gain.

Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg faces 21 new charges
Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg faces 21 new charges

Greenberg used the tax collector’s American Express card to purchase cryptocurrency and used tax collector funds to operate a cryptocurrency mining operation for his own benefit and also used tax collector funds to run a business selling cryptocurrency mining tools to others, according to the indictment.

Additionally, prosecutors said Greenburg used tax collector funds to buy sports memorabilia signed by Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.

The former tax collector also set up a bank account at Fifth Third Bank in the name of the tax collector’s office to receive office funds and then used that account to write checks to himself, according to the affidavit.

He would “falsely represent in the memo lines of the checks the purpose of the transactions in an attempt to conceal the true personal nature of the transaction,” the affidavit stated.

Among the fraud charges, investigators said Greenberg reinstated two businesses — Greenberg Media and DG3 Network — in June, which he had dissolved earlier in 2020. Prosecutors said the businesses were reinstated with the purpose of falsely applying for Economic Injury Disaster Relief Loans, EIDLs, through the Small Business Administration. Those loans were created to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Greenberg, along with another unnamed conspirator, bribed an SBA employee to assist with the loan applications, ultimately paying the employee at least $3,000, according to investigators. In the applications, it was claimed that DG3 Network employed two people and that Greenberg Media employed 10 people.

In all, prosecutors said this conspiracy saw Greenberg pocket more $432,700 from those EIDLs.

In addition to the fraud charges, the court records also reveal new evidence of the steps Greenberg took to smear a political opponent, according to prosecutors.

Below is a letter that Greenberg is accused of sending to school officials, posing as an anonymous “concerned student,” detailing false allegations of sexual misconduct by his opponent, according to prosecutors.

A letter sent by Joel Greenberg to smear a political opponent, according to prosecutors. (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Additionally, the affidavit contains social media posts that investigators believe were made by Greenberg posing as his rival.

“I’m running for office to keep #seminolecounty white and segregated. It’s time we take back our county!” one post read.

Similarly, the affidavit also contained posts from Greenberg, according to prosecutors, posing as a concerned employee at the school where Greenberg’s opponent worked.

“I am a teacher at (the school). I post this today to make the public aware that Mr. (school employee) has had several accusations of sexual misconduct made against him over the past two years,” the post read before further lobbing accusations of sexual encounters with a student.

Greenberg was indicted last June on federal stalking charges, later prosecutors filed more charges, including unlawful use of means to identify another person, production of identification and false identification documents, aggravated identity theft, sex trafficking of a child and violating the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.

In addition to the new accusations, Greenberg is accused of stalking his political opponent by creating fake social media accounts and spreading a false rumor that he sexually abused a student, using information from surrendered driver’s licenses to make fake IDs with his picture on it, trying to create fake concealed weapons permits and using fake IDs for individuals he was involved in “sugar daddy relationships” with so they could “engage in commercial sex acts,” despite being underage.

Greenberg has pleaded not guilty to the first 12 charges against him.

He was ordered back to jail in early March when police said he violated his probation by going to his mother-in-law’s home in Jupiter to find his wife.

The investigation into Greenberg was recently connected to another investigation into accusations of a sexual relationship between a 17-year-old girl and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz. The report first appeared in The New York Times on Tuesday.

Gaetz has denied the accusations and said they are part of a plot to extort money out of him and smear his name.


About the Authors:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.

Award-winning investigative reporter Merris Badcock joined the News 6 team in October 2020. Merris is the recipient of a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award, a Suncoast Regional Emmy Award, four Suncoast Emmy Regional nominations, and two first-place Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists’ Awards.