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Matt Gaetz’s associate expected to plead guilty in sex trafficking case: What that means for the congressman

  • April 11, 2021

WASHINGTON – The House Ethics Committee has said it will investigate Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., capping a scandal-plagued week for the congressman.  

On Thursday, an attorney representing an associate of Gaetz in a fraud and sex trafficking case hinted that the congressman could face serious legal troubles. 

“I’m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today,” Fritz Scheller said outside a federal courthouse in Orlando, Florida, shortly after he and federal prosecutors disclosed that they had agreed to negotiate a plea deal. 

Gaetz, a Republican firebrand and staunch defender of former President Donald Trump, has been the subject of controversy since The New York Times reported that the Justice Department is investigating whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel across state lines – a violation of federal sex trafficking laws. 

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., has not been charged with a crime, and he has denied allegations that he violated federal sex trafficking laws.

A plea deal with Scheller’s client, former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, could open Gaetz to greater legal jeopardy if Greenberg were to fully cooperate by telling prosecutors everything he knows about illegal activities the two men may have been involved in, legal experts say. 

Gaetz saga:Indicted tax collector who kicked off Matt Gaetz investigation working on plea deal

The Justice Department’s investigation on Gaetz is part of a broader inquiry into Greenberg, and investigators are examining whether the two men were involved in recruiting women online for sex, The Times reported

Rep. Matt Gaetz’s media blitz publicized a federal investigation. Legal experts say that poses risks

Greenberg, who’s accused of trafficking minors, could face a lengthy prison sentence, and if he were to try to seek a more lenient punishment, he must cooperate fully.

Former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg is accused of trafficking minors and could reach a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

“You’re either on the bus or you’re off the bus. You can’t cooperate a little bit,” said former federal prosecutor Patrick Cotter, adding that Scheller’s comment to reporters was telling. 

“What you can say with confidence is that if Greenberg reaches an agreement to cooperate, it will almost certainly be very bad for Mr. Gaetz’s legal position,” Cotter said. 

Adam Kinzinger becomes first Republican in Congress to call for Matt Gaetz’s resignation amid federal investigation

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