Federal prosecutors have advised against charging Republican Representative Matt Gaetz for alleged sex trafficking and intend to file charges against him, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
The prosecutors noted to senior officials of the Department of Justice that their decision was based on several questions of credibility centered around the core witnesses in the investigation.
The DOJ superiors have not come to a conclusion yet. However, it is expected that the advice of the prosecutors will be duly followed.
Federal prosecutors and the FBI began this investigation during the Trump administration in 2020. The Republican congressman had allegedly been involved in sex trafficking crimes on multiple occasions. He was accused of paying women for sex and traveling overseas to attend parties thrown by minors.
The 40-year-old congressman has repeatedly denied committing such crimes with minors and insists that he has never paid for sex. Gaetz added that the only time he had been sexually involved with a minor was when he was also a minor, and they were both 17 years old at the time. Gaetz said, “I continue to proclaim my innocence.”
Some of his associates, including one of his former partners, gave testimonies to a grand jury earlier this year. His former partner who testified was one of the women on a trip Gaetz took to the Bahamas several years ago, and that trip has been a topic of interest in the Court. The 17-year-old Gaetz was allegedly involved with improperly was also on that trip, though she was already an adult.
The problem with DOJ’s approach to the Gaetz case is you don’t cooperate a horrible person like Joel Greenberg *unless and until* you know for sure you can and will rely on his testimony. To flip Greenberg and decide later that he’s unusable is atrocious prosecutorial practice.
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) September 23, 2022
The tension in this investigation began to increase in 2021 when Joel Greenberg, a close friend to the congressman, pleaded guilty to six federal crimes. Sex trafficking was one of the crimes he pleaded guilty to.
Fritz Scheller, Greenberg’s defense attorney, said, “Mr. Greenberg has been cooperating with federal prosecutors in active investigations currently being conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Florida and the Department of Justice in Washington D.C, as well as in other jurisdictions.”
Greenberg’s sentencing has been continually delayed for unclear reasons. However, the court filing by Scheller and some other information presented to the Court have prompted the judge, Gregory Presnell, to put off his sentencing till the 1st of December.
Greenberg made a deal with federal prosecutors to have his other 27 counts dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea. In addition, the prosecutors agreed to recommend a term less than the maximum penalties and possible sentencing breaks. Regardless, Greenberg will be facing a minimum of 12 years jail sentence.
While investigating Greenberg’s case, prosecutors found some evidence with the potential also to implicate Gaetz in sex trafficking. This led them to begin investigations to determine if both men were involved in sex trafficking crimes together and whether both men had previously shared sexual partners. Anonymous sources familiar with the investigations also told the media that Gaetz previously requested a pardon over the sex offenses investigations.
However, the prosecutors have concluded that testimonies from Greenberg and the 17-year-old, which were once relied upon, can no longer be trusted.