Associate of ex-Seminole tax collector Joel Greenberg pleads not guilty to fraud charges

Michael Shirley accused of bribing a public official, submitting inflated invoices

(Left) Michael Shirley, (Right) Joel Greenberg (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – A former consultant for the Seminole County Tax Collector’s Office pleaded not guilty to fraud-related charges Thursday.

Michael Shirley was hired by former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg on the same day Greenberg was sworn into office in January 2017, records show.

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Federal prosecutors claim Shirley submitted inflated invoices to the agency, earning more than $460,000 while under contract.

Shirley is also accused of bribing an unnamed government official believed to be Greenberg.

[RELATED: 2 Joel Greenberg associates indicted over alleged property fraud scheme]

“I pleaded not guilty,” Shirley told News 6 following a brief arraignment hearing at the federal courthouse in Orlando. “I really can’t answer any questions past that. We have to let the process play out, and there’s a respect level for that.”

Shirley faces 1 count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and 4 counts of honest services fraud.

The indictment states that Shirley is the owner of a company, Praetorian Integrated Services, which was hired in January 2017 by a “local governmental agency of Seminole County.”

The indictment does not say which government agency; however, a consulting services agreement dated Jan. 3, 2017, shows Greenberg hired Praetorian as a “consultant” with a fee of $12,500 per month. Shirley signed that contract for Praetorian while Greenberg signed on behalf of the tax collector’s office.

[RELATED: Joel Greenberg Timeline: From rising Republican star to federal charges]

Shirley, who now lives in Texas, was arrested on Aug. 31 after a Florida grand jury indicted him on fraud charges. He is currently free from custody while awaiting trial.

Greenberg pleaded guilty last year to six federal charges including child sex trafficking and aggravated identity theft.

More than 18 months after former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg began cooperating with federal prosecutors as part of a plea agreement, a judge is scheduled to sentence Greenberg on six criminal charges including child sex trafficking.

As part of a plea deal, Greenberg agreed to cooperate with federal authorities on other, undisclosed criminal investigations.

Greenberg, who faces a mandatory minimum of 12 years in prison, is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 1.

About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter Mike DeForest has been covering Central Florida news for more than two decades.