Prosecutors could bring criminal charges against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz as soon as July. ABC News reports that sources said that’s when prosecutors will decide whether to bring charges against the embattled Congressman.
Talk of an indictment for the Fort Walton Beach Republican has dragged on for months. Gaetz has been a target of an investigation into whether he was sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl. The accusation stems from a criminal investigation into former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, who in May pleaded guilty in federal court in Orlando to sex trafficking of a child and five counts involving fraud.
ABC News reports that since that point Greenberg has cooperated with investigators, and he is prepared to testify and provide evidence against Gaetz and others involved in potential criminal activity.
The investigation as it pertains to Gaetz stepped up in recent weeks, according to the report, as investigators spoke with women Greenberg introduced to Gaetz.
The Greenberg investigation revealed the use of so-called “sugar daddy” apps used to connect clients with women who provide sex in exchange for lavish gifts. Venmo records reported by The Daily Beast showed Gaetz in 2018 sent money to Greenberg, who then sent money to women in the same amount, marking the payments sometimes with labels like “school” or “tuition.”
The latest report includes a revelation of Snapchat messages, which ABC says include Gaetz associate Joe Ellicott encouraging a woman to delay sharing information with investigators. The woman reportedly had concerns she knew another female was under the age of 18 when she had sex with Gaetz and Greenberg.
“She needs to delay them, hold them off and just not answer them,” Ellicott said in a message. Snapchat automatically deletes communications, but a screenshot of the message was shared with ABC.
Gaetz has criticized the investigation as a “partisan smear.” He has also in the past called Greenberg’s credibility into question, noting the federal investigation of his former friend started when Greenberg made apparently false accusations of sexual misconduct against a political opponent.
ABC reports it’s not just sex-for-money schemes under investigation. Federal officials also have an interest in contracts awarded through Greenberg’s office that auditors considered “waste” and “unnecessary.” That includes a contract that spanned more than three years with KI Consulting.