Joel Greenberg associate pleads guilty to role in bribery scheme

Joseph Ellicott must cooperate with feds as part of plea deal

ORLANDO, Fla. – An associate and ex-employee of former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg pleaded guilty Wednesday to a pair of federal charges, including one related to a bribery scheme.

Joseph Ellicott, 43, admitted in court to taking part in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and illegally distributing the prescription drug Adderall.

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“I am guilty, sir,” Ellicott told Magistrate Judge David Baker.

Ellicott faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count.  His sentencing is expected to occur in about two or three months.

As part of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors are expected to ask a judge for leniency in exchange for Ellicott’s cooperation in other criminal investigations.

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.”

Ellicott admitted to 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.

Greenberg is currently 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.

Last week, Greenberg asked a judge to delay his sentencing to an undisclosed date as he continues to cooperate with authorities “against multiple individuals” as part of his plea agreement with the government, according to newly filed court papers.

Ellicott and his attorneys declined to comment after Wednesday’s court hearing.

Joseph Zwick, one of Ellicott’s attorneys, reportedly told The Daily Beast his client has been cooperating in a sex trafficking investigation involving Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz.

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

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


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.