Joel Greenberg associate pleads guilty to federal charges

Joe Ellicott must cooperate with government on other investigations under plea deal

ORLANDO, Fla. – An associate of former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg must cooperate with authorities on federal investigations as part of a plea agreement, court filings made public this week reveal.

Joe Ellicott, a former Orlando sports radio host known as “Big Joe,” was hired by Greenberg in January 2017 and paid more than $361,000 to serve as assistant deputy tax collector, records show. An auditor was later told by the agency’s staff that Ellicott “did not do much”.

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Federal prosecutors accused Ellicott of serving as an intermediary between a public official believed to be Greenberg and a contractor that provided printing services, shirts, envelopes and business cards. Greenberg and the contractor are not named in court records.

That contractor submitted inflated invoices to the public official’s office, including one with more than a 90% markup, that enriched the contractor and defrauded the government agency, court records allege.

The contractor used Ellicott to deliver $6,000 in cash bribes to the public official, according to court records.

Prosecutors also accused Ellicott of illegally distributing the prescription drug Adderall.

On the same day prosecutors filed an information in court charging Ellicott with wire fraud and distribution of a controlled substance, Ellicott entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Under the agreement, Ellicott will plead guilty to both charges, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years prison.

If the judge accepts the plea agreement, prosecutors intend to request a less severe sentence.

In exchange, Ellicott has agreed to offer “substantial assistance” to the government including cooperating in other federal investigations and prosecutions.

Ellicott’s attorney, Joseph Zwick, did not immediately return a call from News 6 seeking comment.

Zwick reportedly told The Daily Beast his client has been cooperating in the sex trafficking case against Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz.

Gaetz’s former girlfriend recently testified before a grand jury in Orlando, according to published reports.

Gaetz, an associate of Greenberg, has denied any wrongdoing and is not charged with any crimes.

Greenberg is scheduled to be sentenced March 29 after pleading guilty to several federal crimes including child sex trafficking. He faces a minimum of 12 years in prison.

Greenberg, who admitted to having sex with an underage girl, claims other men also had a physical relationship with the minor, court records show.

Greenberg has been cooperating with the government on other investigations as part of a plea agreement, prosecutors confirm.


About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter Mike DeForest has been covering Central Florida news for more than two decades. Mike joined News 6 just as Florida officials began counting hanging chads in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election. Since then, he has covered some of the biggest news events in Central Florida.