“Sir. Greenberg was not alone. This is an unusual situation in the number of different investigations and lines of inquiry that we are pursuing,” Handberg said, adding that the extra time was needed “by because of the need to follow some of these leads ”.
The biggest prize for federal prosecutors is Gaetz, who was not mentioned in court on Monday and is being investigated on suspicion of paying to have sex with a 17-year-old girl in who Greenberg introduced him to in 2017.
The investigation into Gaetz has continued since November and became public this spring amid predictions of an impending incitement for the congressman that never materialized. The March sentencing date for Greenberg – the former Seminole County tax collector – sets a new time horizon for when Gaetz could be charged, if any.
Indictments of sitting members of Congress are usually approved by the Attorney General, and the Department of Justice often tries to avoid laying criminal charges in the heat of the moment. The Florida primary is August 23; Gaetz has two Republican opponents. A Gaetz spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Greenberg pleaded guilty to sex trafficking the 17-year-old, who is now an adult. Gaetz has denied all charges and has repeatedly pointed out that Greenberg was guilty of this crime and also admitted to falsely slandering a political rival as a pedophile.
Sex trafficking of a minor isn’t the only potential charge Gaetz faces.
Prosecutors examined a trip to the Bahamas in 2018 that Gaetz was visiting to see if the congressman and two political allies had violated Mann Law, which prohibits taking people across state lines for engage in prostitution. Greenberg was not on this trip, but the victim of his sex trafficking was, although at that time she was 18 years old. Gaetz previously said he never paid for sex.
Gaetz is also being investigated as to whether he obstructed justice when he called an ex-girlfriend and another potential witness in the case and discussed it with them. Gaetz, a lawyer, denied obstructing justice. The ex-girlfriend is asking prosecutors for an immunity deal in exchange for her testimony. POLITICO does not appoint her or the other women in the case to respect their privacy.
Gaetz isn’t the only suspect within Greenberg’s crime explosion radius and his attempt to get a lesser sentence in return for his cooperation. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 12 years for six separate crimes to which he pleaded guilty: sex trafficking of a minor, stalking a political rival, identity theft, fraud of local taxpayers as part of a scheme. cryptocurrency and bribery of a Small Business Administration employee to illegally receive federal services. Covid relief money. Prosecutors hinted Monday that the Greenberg case had trapped several people and led to several leads for investigation.
One of the co-conspirators of this Covid relief program, a former mortgage broker named Nabil Dajani, is expected to be charged over the crime, three people familiar with the matter told POLITICO. Dajani declined to comment in detail when contacted on Monday.
A longtime friend of Greenberg’s Joe Ellicott was investigated for suspected sex trafficking of the 17-year-old in 2017, according to earlier reports. He declined to comment. According to other reports, Greenberg’s former friend Chris Dorworth was questioned by federal prosecutors on whether he was involved in a scheme to recruit a so-called “shadow candidate” in a Senate race. the state, which he denied.
Two other men linked to Gaetz, former Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation secretary Halsey Beshears and former Orlando Aviation Authority member Jason Pirozzolo, are under investigation in connection with their trip to the Bahamas with Gaetz , as POLITICO previously reported.
In court on Monday, Greenberg’s attorney Fritz Scheller said Greenberg needed more time to assist prosecutors and was “on the road to rehabilitation and, to a lesser extent, redemption.” He also said the information from Greenberg is “a way to lessen the seriousness of Mr Greenberg’s case … to make amends.”
The judge responded by noting that Greenberg took something from his testimony: “Well, that’s a way to lessen his sentence.”
Presnell, noting that much of the investigation must be kept confidential, said he still needed to understand “why we need a year to convict someone,” given the fact that Greenberg pleaded guilty in May. He said he would condemn Greenberg at some point in March, and “now is a deadline that we are going to have to meet.”
Prosecutor Handberg said the information provided to Greenberg was helpful and at times “unexpected.” But it takes time.
“The investigators in this case followed the evidence to where it took it,” Handberg said. “This is obviously not a normal situation.”