Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg made more than 150 Venmo payments to young women. At least one went to a girl who was 17-years-old at the time.
That’s according to records obtained by The Daily Beast as further details about a federal criminal investigation reach the public. The latter information will further fuel a scandal engulfing high-profile U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.
A bombshell report in The New York Times said the Justice Department was investigating Gaetz for sex trafficking for transporting a 17-year-old girl across state lines for sex.
Additionally, it’s increasingly clear Gaetz knew last year he could be ensnared in a federal case. Investigators seized his phone in December, two sources told the Beast.
That investigation stems from an ongoing case against Greenberg, a political ally facing 33 criminal accounts in federal court, including a similar sex trafficking charge. The latest report in the Beast says records show a $300 payment in June of 2017 to the girl, identified in a Venmo memo as a payment for “food.”
About 11 months after the damning exchange, Gaetz sent money to Greenberg with a message to “hit up” the same girl, who was 18 by that point. Greenberg immediately send a payment to the woman for “school.”
The use of the Venmo electronic payment app, which by default sets all payment histories as public, has already drawn scrutiny into Gaetz’s financial relationship to Greenberg and to women. Another new payment revealed in the latest Best report shows Gaetz in 2018, days before the mid-term election, sent a $300 payment to Greenberg with a “love hotel” (“🏩”) emoji.
The latest report indicates dozens of payments to women were identified with messages both subtle and vulgar. One said the transfer was for “A**.” Another had a lipstick emoji. Five payments were for “Salad.”
Greenberg resigned last August as a federal case emerged, first focused on disparaging and anonymous attacks on a political opponent but expanding to include many more charges, including one for sex trafficking a minor between the ages of 14 and 18.
Investigators are now looking into whether Gaetz had sex with the same woman, according to multiple media outlets.
Anther woman connected to Gaetz also shows up in Greenberg’s Venmo history, according to the Beast. Greenberg in 2017 made 16 payments totaling about $5,000 to a woman who later dated Gaetz while interning in Washington, D.C. Greenberg also made a payment in April 2017 to the woman using Cash App.