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Joel Greenberg resigns as Seminole County Tax Collector

Under federal indictment for stalking and illegally using a false identification

Joel Greenberg resigned Wednesday as Seminole County Tax Collector as he faces federal criminal charges relating to accusations he harassed a school employee, reported in some media to be one of his reelection challengers.

Greenberg’s resignation took effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday

The resignation comes a day after federal prosecutors announced they had indicted him on charges of stalking and unlawful use of a means of identification of another person. He was arrested, presented with the charges in U.S. District Court in Orlando, and released on his own recognizance Tuesday.

Brian Bieber, a shareholder with the law firm GreyRobinson and who is representing the Seminole County Tax Collector’s Office, said late Wednesday that “Joel resigned effective 5 p.m. today.”

“The Seminole County Tax Collector’s Office is and will continue to run smoothly and efficiently in his absence. We look forward to Gov. [Ron] DeSantis appointing an interim Tax Collector in the very near future,” Bieber said. “It is critically important that the public understands that the office as an entity, as a whole, is not accused of committing or participating in any criminal activity.”

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On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the office said that “day-to-day operations are being overseen by our Deputy Tax Collector Cynthia Torres and Chief Operating Officer Paula Prevatt, both of whom have worked at the office for more than 15 years. “

Greenberg has not yet withdrawn as a candidate for reelection, though a spokesperson for Greenberg said he is focusing on his court case and that will be dealt with later.

So he is still listed as being in an Aug. 18 Republican primary battle with Brian Beute and J.K. Kroll.

The Orlando Sentinel and other media reported that Beute was the subject of the alleged stalking. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida has not disclosed the name of the alleged victim, and Florida Politics has not been able to confirm the report. Beute has not responded to inquiries from Florida Politics.

The indictment says Greenberg created aliases and sent letters, email, and social media account postings to accuse a school employee of having sex with a student.

The indictment also accuses Greenberg of using fake accounts to distribute allegations that the person was a segregationist in favor of white supremacy. The materials were sent from a nameless “very concerned student” and “a very concerned teacher,” which were fictitious, and were, in fact Greenberg, the indictment charges.

If convicted on both counts, Greenberg faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

The winner of the Aug. 18 primary would face Democrat Lynn Moira Dictor in the November election.

Greenberg first won election to the office in 2016, after defeating longtime Tax Collector Ray Valdez, who also was dealing with reports of criminal investigations during that campaign.

Greenberg has been controversial throughout his tenure. Critics have charged that some of his actions, statements, and social media postings have been xenophobic and misogynist. At one point he sought to arm himself and his top staff in the office, but was later advised that was not permissible. In one incident, he was accused of falsely passing himself off as a law enforcement officer when he stopped a motorist. News reports and his opponents have claimed Greenberg has steered his office’s contracts and staff positions to friends and favored contractors.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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