ORLANDO, Fla – The man who investigators say was the target of an online smear campaign perpetrated by Joel Greenberg spoke to the media on Monday as the former Seminole County tax collector pleaded guilty in federal court to six charges, including child sex trafficking.
Brian Beute, a teacher at Trinity Preparatory School, ran against Greenberg during the 2020 Republican primary for the tax collector’s office. During that race, Greenberg created fake social media accounts and wrote an anonymous letter all in an effort to portray Beute as a racist and a child molester, according to investigators.
“I’m not a politician, and I never planned to be in politics. I’m a teacher at a small school and a small community who simply saw need to replace someone who is taking advantage of regular citizens like me,” Beute said prior to Greenberg’s guilty plea.
The investigation in the attack on Beute ultimately led to Greenberg’s arrest on federal stalking charges. Those stalking allegations then led to Greenberg facing charges ranging from child sex trafficking to fraud and federal authorities dug deeper into the tax collector’s dealings in and around the office.
Beute believes that Greenberg’s wrongdoings should have been uncovered sooner by the state.
“From 2016 to 2019, prior to my campaign, the state of Florida’s oversight system was either complicit with or failed to monitor the Seminole County tax collector office. Why? Who is responsible for this failure?” Beute said. “Under a functional and effective system of checks and balances, it is quite possible some crimes might have been prevented, and today’s events may never have occurred.”
Beute, who said he is a lifelong Republican, said he asking the governor’s office to initiate an “exhaustive investigation” into the agencies assigned with overseeing the tax collector’s office.
“The Department of Revenue has direct oversight over the tax collector offices in Florida. Okay, so that’s number one,” Beute said. “The Seminole County citizens have known about this for quite some time, the media has reported on this since 2016. Why are we here today? So we do have an oversight issue in Florida, and it needs to be addressed — whether it’s the governor’s investigation, and it turns out to be some legislation — it needs to be addressed.”
Beute said he believes politicians, like Greenberg, have taken advantage of people being disengaged from their local government. He encouraged others to get more involved in their local politics.
“And that’s, again, one of the reasons why I ran in the first place. It was no secret to you, you reported on the shenanigans between 2016 and 2019. I’m actually surprised more Republicans didn’t run against him,” Beute said, but added, “Actually, maybe I’ll restate that. Maybe I’m not. So there needs to be reform in our culture — in people’s hearts.”
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