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Ex-Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg to change his not-guilty plea

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ORLANDO, Fla. – Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg is set to enter a new plea Monday on multiple federal charges.

The Seminole County Republican previously entered a not-guilty plea to stalking, unlawful use of means to identify another person, production of identification and false identification documents, aggravated identity theft, sex trafficking of a child and violating the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.

A notice filed Thursday shows he plans to change his plea during a hearing Monday at 10 a.m. Federal Judge Leslie Hoffman will oversee the change of plea hearing.

Greenberg could plead guilty or no contest. The court documents did not disclose for which charges he plans to change his plea.

[MORE COVERAGE: Joel Greenberg scandal: Who’s who in the federal investigation? | Joel Greenberg Timeline: From rising Republican star to federal charges]

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On April 9, Greenberg’sattorney Fritz Scheller said his client would likely take a plea sometime before the trial, but added that the deal had not yet been finalized.

The defense said that they hoped to have an agreement by May 15, but if a deal is not reached by then the case will go to trial.

Greenberg resigned as tax collector in June 2020, following his initial arrest on federal stalking charges after investigators said he made false posts online in an effort to smear a political opponent.

He was later hit with more charges including unlawful use of means to identify another person, production of identification and false identification documents, aggravated identity theft, sex trafficking of a child and violating the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.

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Most recently, Greenberg received a third indictment accusing him of embezzling more than $400,000 from the tax collectors office — using some of the money for his cryptocurrency side business — and filing fraudulent Economic Injury Disaster Relief Loans, EIDLs, through the Small Business Administration, records show. Those loans were created to help struggling businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The case against Greenberg made national headlines when he was tied to another Florida Republican, Rep. Matt Gaetz. The New York Times reported the investigation into Greenberg led to another probe of Gaetz surrounding accusations he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old. The Republican lawmaker has yet to be charged with a crime.

Federal prosecutors are examining whether Gaetz and Greenberg paid underage girls or offered them gifts in exchange for sex, according to people familiar with the matter. Gaetz has vehemently denied the allegations and any wrongdoing and insists he will not resign his seat in Congress.

Investigators have also been looking at whether Gaetz and his associates tried to secure government jobs for some of the women, the people said. They are also scrutinizing Gaetz’s connections to the medical marijuana sector, including whether his associates sought to influence legislation Gaetz sponsored.

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The people had knowledge of the investigation but spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to publicly discuss the ongoing investigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.

Source: on 2021-05-13 12:18:45

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