Former Seminole tax collector Joel Greenberg could be sentenced in August

Federal judge says year-long delay in sentencing has been “in the interest of justice”

Prosecutors requested another sentencing delay for former tax collector Joel Greenberg as he continues to cooperate with authorities.

ORLANDO, Fla. – More than a year after former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg pleaded guilty to six federal charges including child sex trafficking, a judge informed prosecutors he intends to sentence Greenberg in August “absent compelling circumstances.”

In a newly filed court order, U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell indicated that the year-long delay in sentencing Greenberg has been “in the interest of justice.”

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Greenberg, who remains incarcerated in the Orange County jail while awaiting sentencing, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 12 years in federal prison.

As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, Greenberg agreed to cooperate on other criminal investigations. That cooperation could potentially lead to a reduction in additional prison time.

Greenberg was originally scheduled to be sentenced in August 2021 after he pleaded guilty to child sex trafficking, aggravated identity theft, production of a false identification document, wire fraud, stalking, and conspiracy.

Since then, Greenberg’s attorney and federal prosecutors have successfully convinced the judge to delay sentencing as Greenberg reportedly continues to assist in other, undisclosed criminal prosecutions.

“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 during an October 2021 court hearing. “The evidence takes us places. And frankly, it takes us places we did not anticipate.”

Prosecutors provided Presnell with a confidential status report Friday that appears to have included a request for an additional sentencing delay, court records indicate.

“Upon consideration of the Government’s in camera and ex parte Status Report filed May 13, 2022, it is ordered that, in the interest of justice, an additional continuance of the sentencing in this matter is granted,” Presnell wrote.

The judge ordered the government to file another status report by July 13 if a sentencing hearing had not yet been set.

“Please note that absent compelling circumstances, it is the Court’s intention to set sentencing to be held in August 2022,” Presnell’s order stated.

Greenberg’s friend and former employee, Joseph Ellicott, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 28 after pleading guilty to his role in a bribery scheme.

Ellicott, a former employee of the Seminole County tax collector’s office, admitted to serving as an intermediary between a public official, believed to be Greenberg, and an unidentified contractor.

That contractor allegedly paid bribes to the official while submitting inflated invoices to a government agency, court records show.

Besides taking part in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Ellicott also admitted to illegally distributing the prescription drug Adderall.  He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each count.

Like Greenberg, Ellicott agreed to cooperate with federal authorities on other, undisclosed criminal investigations in exchange for leniency.

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.


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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.