Federal sentencing date set for ex-Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg

Greenberg faces 12 years to life in prison

Joel Greenberg admits to paying teen for sex, introducing her to other men, documents show

ORLANDO, Fla. – A sentencing date has been set for ex-Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg following a guilty plea from the Republican politician in May.

Federal judge Gregory A. Presnell set Greenberg’s sentencing for Aug. 19 at 9:30 a.m. at the U.S. Courthouse in Orlando.

This comes the same day the judge officially accepted Greenberg’s guilty plea, which he entered on May 17 as part of a plea agreement. Greenberg is now officially adjudicated guilty after no timely objections to his plea have been made.

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Greenberg pleaded guilty to six criminal charges, including child sex trafficking. Under the plea agreement, he must provide “substantial assistance” with other government investigations and prosecutions.

He faces anywhere from 12 years to life in prison based on sentencing guidelines and minimum mandatory sentencing requirements, however, Greenberg’s attorney, Fritz Scheller, said at the time of the guilty plea that his client could do less time than that.

Greenberg will also be required to pay nearly $655,000 in restitution to his victims, including Seminole County taxpayers.

In exchange for his cooperation and guilty pleas, prosecutors agreed to drop 27 additional charges involving crimes that allegedly occurred in Greenberg’s personal life and while he was working as an elected official.

Court records signed by Greenberg outline the terms of the plea agreement and provide new details about the crimes to which he is now admitting, including sex trafficking of a child, production of a false document, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, stalking and conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S.

The investigation into Greenberg began during the 2020 Republican primary for the tax collector’s office in Seminole County. Brian Beute, a teacher at Trinity Preparatory School, ran against Greenberg. 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.

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The investigation into 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 as federal authorities dug deeper into the tax collector’s dealings in and around the office — such as taking customers’ old driver licenses discarded at his tax offices to create fake IDs containing for himself, which he used while recruiting women for sex on “sugar daddy” websites, prosecutors said, including one who was younger than 18 years old.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a friend of Greenberg, is under investigation for possible sex crimes related to the Greenberg problem, according to published reports.

Gaetz has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crimes. His name does not appear in Greenberg’s plea agreement.

About the Author:

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.