Joel Greenberg associate claims alleged bribes were car registration payments

Michael Shirley’s attorney wants evidence thrown out

(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 claims checks written to former tax collector Joel Greenberg were not bribes.

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.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury last September, where prosecutors claimed Shirley submitted inflated invoices to the agency, earning more than $460,000 while under contract.

According to court documents filed late Wednesday, Shirley’s attorney, Warren Lindsey, took issue with the allegation that Shirley committed Honest Services Fraud by paying bribes or kickbacks.

Lindsey listed five checks he said the government is using as evidence against Shirley:

  • May 12, 2017 - $82
  • May 17, 2017 - $62
  • Nov. 6, 2017 - $5,500
  • Nov. 14, 2017 - $7,000
  • May 15, 2018 - $184

Lindsey argued Shirley wrote checks for $82, $62 and $184 payable to “Joel Greenberg Seminole County Tax Collector” to pay his vehicle registration.

He said the checks for $7,000 and $5,500 were part of a private real estate deal for property in Brevard County.

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Lindsey also listed three political donations that he said federal prosecutors claimed her made at the behest of Greenberg:

  • Sept. 7, 2017 - $1,000 to Mark Weller campaign
  • Nov. 28, 2017 - $1,000 to Ashley Moody campaign
  • March 30, 2018 - $3,000 to Gavin Clarkson campaign

Lindsey argued they were not made at the behest of Greenberg, and the donations made by Shirley were protected under the First Amendment.

He asked the judge to exclude this evidence.

In a separate motion, Lindsey asked the court to dismiss the indictment against Shirley because the allegations are too vague.

The judge has yet to rule on either motion.

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About the Authors:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

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