Joel Greenberg’s attorney thinks more indictments coming, warns of complacency

Fritz Scheller thinks seven or eight men should be facing sex crimes charges

Joel Greenberg to reimburse Seminole County taxpayers

ORLANDO, Fla. – The attorney for disgraced Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg says more prosecutions should be on the way based on evidence his client gave on multiple investigations.

In fact, Fritz Scheller is unhappy it hasn’t happened yet.

Scheller is warning the U.S. Dept. of Justice and the public not to get complacent in thinking justice was done Thursday by sentencing Greenberg to 11 years in federal prison for crimes including child sex trafficking, bribery, fraud and other charges.

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“I think sometimes that the prosecution of somebody like Joel Greenberg gives us a sense of complacency, like everything is alright, that justice has been done,” Scheller said. “Really then, sometimes the more culpable escape. So it is a real false sense of security and complacency.”

“There’s a dark abyss behind Joel Greenberg and his prosecution may give us a sheltering sky from looking into that abyss,” Scheller said, referring to the novel “The Sheltering Sky” by Paul Bowles.

Scheller, in speaking with reporters after the sentencing hearing, said he expects at least two more indictments are coming based on Greenberg’s cooperation with federal prosecutors.

Those indictments are related to Small Business Administration loan fraud, prosecutors indicated Wednesday.

However, he also says there are seven or eight men who should be facing charges in the sex trafficking case yet have not been indicted yet.

He would not speak directly to any of the cases, in particular the investigation into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican representing the west Florida Panhandle. Gaetz is a Greenberg associate who reportedly is under investigation in connection with the sex trafficking charges Greenberg was convicted on.

In that case, Greenberg says he used a “sugar daddy” website to procure sex in exchange for money, including from one individual who turned out to be 17 at the time, which Greenberg said Gaetz paid for.

In a September story, the Washington Post said prosecutors in the Justice Department had recommended not charging Gaetz because of credibility issues with witnesses. No final decision has been made yet.


In the defendant sentencing memorandum released before Greenberg was sentenced, Scheller bemoaned to the court the low number of prosecutions based on the information Greenberg had provided, even hinting that DOJ might be “like Nero fiddling away as Rome burns.”

“Indeed, Greenberg’s plea agreement refers to the involvement of multiple co-conspirators including individuals involved in his sex offense. The identification of these potential co-conspirators was not only provided by Mr. Greenberg in his numerous proffers, but also has been collaborated by other witnesses and records,” Scheller had written.

On Thursday, Scheller said if the federal prosecutors weren’t going to take on the bigger, harder cases, why are they there?

“There are more insidious threats that are behind the surface when I talk about the dark abyss,” Scheller said. “And if we’re not going to have the government’s fortitude and commitment to doing that, then what’s its purpose?”

Greenberg’s credibility a hindrance, says attorney

Orlando defense attorney Mark O’Mara, who has handled high-profile cases like the trial of George Zimmerman and argued cases in federal court, says he disagrees with Scheller’s complacency accusation.

O’Mara said federal prosecutors have a high rate of convictions not just because of their competency, but because they take their time.

O’Mara says the real problem may be that prosecutors can’t rely on Greenberg’s word alone.

“They also know they cannot solely rely on one witness, particularly if that witness is now a convicted felon,” O’Mara said.

“His credibility is horrific. Not only was he involved in almost everything you can think of… that’s all going to come out as an attack on his credibility with some future jury unless his words corroborate some other unimpeachable evidence,” O’Mara said.

“They almost have to have enough to convict (a suspect) without Greenberg,” O’Mara added.

This could be part of the reason why, in the U.S. sentencing memorandum released before Greenberg’s sentencing, prosecutors committed a large amount of the document to detailing everything Greenberg had done.

Scheller, in his defendant sentencing memorandum, complained that it was an attack on Greenberg’s character that overshadowed everything that Greenberg had done since his arrest, including his cooperation with investigators on cases ranging from sex crimes to bribery.

“They’re going to say Greenberg is dirtbag,” O’Mara said. “Now fast forward, when they prosecute (a suspect) they can say, ‘Yeah Greenberg is a dirtbag, Greenberg is a dirtbag, Greenberg is a dirtbag, but look at this evidence.’”

O’Mara says it’s important for prosecutors to demonstrate in court that “flipping” people to talk is a legitimate and necessary tool.

“If I were a prosecutor I would not say, ‘Don’t listen to him by himself,’ listen to him in the context of other evidence,” O’Mara said.

However, that means cases against higher-profile people, like Gaetz, may be harder to prosecute and may not even go forward at all.

O’Mara says it’s not about high-profile people getting deferential treatment, but about prosecutors holding themselves to a higher standard in a case that could have consequences on governance.

“When you go after the king you don’t just wound him, you’ve got to kill him, and that means sometimes people don’t get indicted,” O’Mara said. “I’m not suggesting give congresspeople a pass, not at all, they need to be held to a higher standard, but if DOJ is going to look at a case and go after someone in governance, be right about it, don’t go after someone willy-nilly.”

“And when they are cautious and they take down a congressperson, let’s say, they tell the other 435 congresspeople ‘You are not immune,’” he added.

[READ: Defendant Sentencing Memorandum]

[READ: U.S. Sentencing Memorandum]

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Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.