Federal judge sets sentencing date for Joel Greenberg

Former Seminole County Tax Collector will be sentenced in March

Former tax collector Joel Greenberg to pay nearly $2 million to Seminole County

ORLANDO, Fla. . – A federal judge set an official sentencing date for disgraced, former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg.

Greenberg’s sentencing is scheduled for March 29 at 9:30 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Orlando.

Greenberg’s attorney, Fritz Scheller, and federal prosecutors had previously asked in October for the sentencing to be delayed as Greenberg is working to cooperate with investigators as part of a plea deal.

“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 in October. “The evidence takes us places, and frankly, it takes us places we did not anticipate.”

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

The judge agreed to the delay, pushing it back to March of 2022, but no firm date was set at the time.

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.

The announcement of a sentencing date comes one day after an ex-girlfriend of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz was seen at the federal courthouse in Orlando. According to a CNN report, a grand jury there was hearing evidence in a child sex trafficking case.

Gaetz, a Republican from Fort Walton Beach who represents Florida’s U.S. House District 1, is being investigated for alleged sexual contact with another woman, who was 17 years old at the time.

The investigation is looking into claims that Gaetz met the underage woman through Greenberg. Greenberg, who pleaded guilty to numerous charges last year, including child sex trafficking, said he introduced her to Gaetz, and that the two paid other women for sex or offered gifts in exchange for sex.

Gaetz’s attorney denied the accusations in a statement to News 6.

“We have seen no credible basis for a charge against Congressman Gaetz,” said lawyer Isabelle Kirshner. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to challenge any allegations with the facts and law.”

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Gaetz has denied any allegations of wrongdoing. No charges have been brought against Gaetz.

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.

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.