Matt Gaetz‘s associate Joel Greenberg, who has been dubbed the Tiger King of tax collectors, tried to get the Florida congressman to use his close ties to President Donald Trump to obtain a pardon for him, a shocking new report revealed on Tuesday.
Greenberg was five days away from a federal indictment for sex trafficking involving a 17-year-old – the same one Gaetz is now being investigated over – in August of last year.
He reached out to mutual friends to help with his defense, according to a WhatsApp chat shared with federal investigators and was obtained by Politico, who published the details.
That included him asking Gaetz to use his influence with Trump to gain Greenberg a pardon, two sources told the news website. Gaetz is close to Trump and was one of his top allies on Capitol Hill. The congressman also was a fervent defender of Trump during Trump’s impeachment hearings and a regular at Mar-a-Lago, even proposing to his fiance there.
Earlier this month, The New York Times reported Gaetz asked officials in the White House for a ‘blanket’ pardon for himself and his congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed, just months before he was revealed to be under federal investigation for sex trafficking.
Trump, however, said Gaetz never asked him for a pardon. ‘Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon,’ Trump said in an April 7 statement. ‘It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him.’
Trump also denied a CNN report that he turned down a meeting with Gaetz this weekend when the congressman was in Palm Beach, Fla., for a Republican event.
‘Fake News CNN, relying on all anonymous sources, meaning they probably made the whole thing up, wrote a very dishonest story claiming Congressman Matt Gaetz asked for a meeting with me at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida, and was denied,’ wrote Trump on the social media platform Gab.
Gaetz has denied all the charges against him. He has not been charged with any crimes.
Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg tried to get the Florida congressman to use his ties to Donald Trump to obtain a pardon for him, a new report revealed – above Greenberg tweeted the photo of himself with Gaetz at White House
Matt Gaetz is a longtime ally of Donald Trump, above he took a selfie with Trump on the House floor
As for the report on Greenberg’s pardon, Gaetz previously said he did not ask Trump to pardon Greenberg but Politico noted it could not reach the congressman to ask about the revelations in the WhatsApp messages.
In those messages, Greenberg fretted he’d been outed by a political consultant who he said ‘was the rat here.’ He expressed concern federal investigators had gone through his Venmo history as part of their probe and revealed he was paying the legal fees for the woman, who is now 20 years old.
Greenberg faces decades of prison time from a total of 33 different charges, including the sex trafficking charge, identity theft, several financial crimes and stalking a political opponent he falsely smeared as a pedophile. The sex trafficking charge is the most serious and carries the biggest penalty.
Gaetz’s allies fear he is prepared to strike a deal with feds to hand them the congressman.
In an August 14 WhatsApp message, Greenberg refers to the woman as ‘Vintage 99’ — a fine-wine reference to her birth year. She used that year in her user name on SeekingArrangement, a dating website that connects women with ‘sugar daddies.’
It is not illegal for Greenberg to pay for her legal fees but would raise questions about her credibility as a witness.
‘I’m having to pay for vintage 99 to retain [a] lawyer,’ Greenberg wrote in the WhatsApp. ‘They [federal agents] contacted her and are wanting her to talk. She doesn’t want to talk to them.’
The latest revelations come after it was revealed Greenberg, a former tax collector in Seminole Country, Florida, has a long history of being accused of misconduct, including complaints alleging he procured fake IDs for women he treated like ‘sugar babies’, burned his wife’s clothes when she left him and defrauded the Small Business Administration out of more than $400,000.
On Thursday his lawyers said the 36-year-old, currently in jail for violating his bail, was cooperating with prosecutors and was readying to take a plea deal.
Greenberg’s friend, with whom he exchanged those WhatsApp messages with, told Politico he felt like he was being set up.
Greenberg told the friend that his attorney told him that ‘everyone is going to need a lawyer.’ But the friend then called Greenberg’s attorney and discovered that was not the case.
‘I have nothing to do with any of this and think it is incredibly uncool you are trying to lawyer me up to be a part of it, Joel,’ he wrote back to Greenberg via WhatsApp. ‘Not. F***ing. Cool.’
The friend told Politico that Greenberg’s message ‘felt like a setup.’
‘It’s the same playbook he used against the teacher he falsely smeared as a pedophile,’ the friend said. ‘And he’ll do the same thing to Gaetz if he can get less prison time.’
Matt Gaetz’s associate Joel Greenberg (pictured in June 2020), allegedly solicited sex for politicians, created fake IDs for women he treated like his ‘sugar babies’ and burned his wife’s clothes when she left him last year
When he was first arrested last summer, Greenberg’s wife (right) left their home for some time. In February, he allegedly drove to Jupiter looking for his wife, but returned home after his mother-in-law called police. When he arrived home, he is said to have burned his wife’s clothes
Meanwhile, The New York Times has revealed quite a few more shocking claims about Greenberg, including that he allegedly used IDs that had been surrendered to his office to create fake identification cards for women with whom he ‘engaged in ‘sugar daddy’ relationships’.
Greenberg has been accused of defrauding the Small Business Administration out of more than $432,000 in COVID-19 relief loans. And earlier this year, he burned his wife’s clothes after she left him following his arrest last summer.
Greenberg tested the boundaries of his power with all of those decisions until the allegations came to light.
The claims against him led Daniel A. Pérez, a lawyer who represented one of Greenberg’s former employees, likening Greenberg’s life to that of a popular Netflix show.
‘It’s like the Tiger King got elected tax collector,’ Pérez said.
When he was first arrested last summer, Greenberg’s wife left their home for some time.
In November, sheriff’s deputies were called to the house after a verbal dispute between the couple, according to the Times.
A few months later in February, Greenberg allegedly drove to Jupiter, Florida, looking for his wife, which violated the curfew and travel restrictions that were conditional upon his release.
His mother-in-law called police and when he finally returned home, Greenberg reportedly burned his wife’s clothes.
Deputies showed up to arrest him at his home where Greenberg claimed to have explosives and threatened to harm himself. After hours of negotiation, he surrendered.
Greenberg has been accused of soliciting women for on behalf of politicians, including Gaetz, who has denied all of the allegations against him. Gaetz, 38, is under investigation by the Justice Department for his links to Greenberg.
In addition to the accusations against Greenberg, it has been revealed that Greenberg allegedly solicited women for sex on behalf of politicians, including Gaetz. Greenberg is pictured with Roger Stone and Gaetz after having dinner together in 2017
Greenberg is even said to have asked a contractor to hack the computers of his critics on the county commission between 2017 and 2018.
As if the aforementioned acts weren’t shocking enough, Greenberg is also said to have gone to work carrying a pistol in a state that does not allow guns to be openly carried, and he pretended to be a cop by putting a flashing light on his car to pull over a woman and accuse her of speeding.
The woman told authorities that Greenberg was wearing shorts, a backward baseball cap and his tax collector’s badge when he pulled her over.
She claimed he yelled at her for cutting him off and driving ‘like a bat out of hell’.
According to the Times, Greenberg ‘wasted’ more than $1million in taxpayer money and used his tax collector credit card to purchase weapons, a drone and body armor.
‘Seminole County elected a criminal into office, unknowingly,’ J.R. Kroll, a Republican who was elected tax collector last year, said shortly after Greenberg resigned from his position.
The revelations come just days after the House Ethics Committee announced that it was opening an investigation into accusations that Gaetz engaged in ‘sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use’, shared lewd images on the House floor and used campaign funds for personal use.
The Florida congressman has notably failed to win the support of even those within his own party as he battles for survival.
It was also reported last week that Gaetz made a late-night transaction to Greenberg in May 2018, with Greenberg then transferring the exact same sum to three women.
The $900 transaction, made via the app Venmo, was reported by The Daily Beast.
Greenberg, early the next morning, transferred $900 in total to three different women – one of whom is now reportedly working as a porn actress. None of the three were under the age of consent – 18 in Florida – at the time.
Gaetz named one of the women in his reference for the transaction to his friend, using her nickname. Greenberg’s three transfers to the women were labeled as ‘tuition’ and ‘school’.
With Greenberg cooperating with the Justice Department, prosecutors may be able to determine if Gaetz broke any sex trafficking or prostitution laws.
Greenberg’s lawyer Fritz Scheller told reporters last week: ‘I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.’
Scheller was also asked if Greenberg introduced Gaetz to any underage girls for sexual relations.
‘I apologize, I just can’t answer that question,’ Greenberg’s attorney said.
Gaetz, a third-term congressman from Florida, has not been charged with a crime, and he has vehemently denied the various accusations against him, among them that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
He called them a ‘lie’.
But the unsettling series of allegations – including that he may have broken federal sex trafficking laws and been involved in a scheme to recruit and pay women for sex – has put Gaetz’s political future in doubt, just as he was being seen as an increasingly potent force in the Republican Party.