Judge agrees to second delay in Joel Greenberg sentencing

Greenberg faces minimum of 12 years in prison

ORLANDO, Fla. – A federal judge granted Joel Greenberg a second delay of his sentencing on Monday, pushing the former Seminole County tax collector’s sentencing date into 2022.

The request was made by both Greenberg’s defense attorney, Fritz Scheller, and federal prosecutors. Greenberg was not in court for the hearing.

“This is an unusual request [to delay sentencing] but I think this is an unusual case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg told the judge. “The evidence takes us places, and frankly, it takes us places we did not anticipate.”

Prosecutors said Greenberg’s information has prompted new investigations but did not provide any details of those investigations.

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The judge agreed to push back Greenberg’s sentencing date from Nov. 19 to March 2022, however, he added there would be no further delays to the sentencing.

This is the second time the sentencing date for the former elected official has been pushed back. Originally, Greenberg was set to be sentenced on Aug. 19 following his guilty plea on May 17.

Greenberg admitted to trafficking a minor for sex, identity theft, wire fraud and stalking. In exchange for prosecutors dropping dozens of other criminal charges, Greenberg agreed to offer “substantial assistance” with other government investigations and prosecutions.

Greenberg faces a mandatory minimum of 12 years in prison but could be sentenced to a significantly longer incarceration, depending on his level of cooperation.

Greenberg will also be required to pay nearly $655,000 in restitution to his victims, including Seminole County taxpayers. His attorney said Monday, Greenberg would pay more in restitution than previously discussed.

“[Greenberg] is on a path of rehabilitation, and to a lesser extent, redemption,” Scheller said.

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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.

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.