Joel Greenberg, former confidant of Matt Gaetz, sentenced to 11 years in prison

Joel Greenberg
The judge said he’d ‘never seen a defendant who has committed so many different types of crimes in such a short period.’

Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, who cooperated in a possibly now-defunct sex trafficking probe of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Judge Gregory Presnell of the Middle District of Florida handed down the sentence Thursday, remarking that in his 22 years on the bench he had “never seen a defendant who has committed so many different types of crimes in such a short period.”

Presnell’s ruling came after more than a year of delays. Greenberg pleaded guilty in May 2021 to six federal crimes, including sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl, identity theft, stalking, wire fraud and conspiracy to bribe a public official.

Two months before that plea, news surfaced of an FBI investigation into Gaetz’s possible involvement in trafficking a minor. Reports followed showing Greenberg made Venmo payments to women who had sex with Greenberg and Gaetz.

Greenberg was first arrested in 2020 and charged with 33 criminal counts. Most stemmed from his time as a public official. In the plea agreement, Greenberg admitted to paying for sex with a minor and introducing the minor to other adult men. He did not mention names.

In a short statement at his sentencing, Greenberg apologized to the girl, his family and “the people of Seminole County. He called his conduct “shameful.”

“Nothing I say can justify my actions,” he said. “I feel such remorse for what I’ve done.”

He faced nearly three decades in prison but received a lighter sentence due to his “substantial cooperation to the government,” said Presnell, who also sentenced Greenberg to 10 years of supervised release after leaving prison.

Greenberg told investigators he saw Gaetz have sex with a minor. Department of Justice documents said Greenberg “provided truthful and timely information” that led to charges of at least four other people and gave “substantial assistance on other matters,” though reporting from September indicated no charges are likely forthcoming against Gaetz.

Greenberg has been linked to several other Florida politicians and their associates, though no others have yet been implicated by name.

His defense attorney, Fritz Scheller, cited his cooperation with authorities in asking for a reduced sentence. Scheller said Greenberg helped in investigations of 24 people, eight of which involved sex crimes.

He previously said his client struggles with mental illness, including attention-deficit disorder, panic attacks, depression, anxiety attacks and — at the time he committed the crimes — bipolar disorder with symptoms of mania.

Federal prosecutors also advocated for leniency by suggesting Greenberg receive a sentence of between nine years and three months and 11 years.

Presnell complied, sentencing Greenberg to the upper limit of that request.


Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Deborah Ryan

    December 1, 2022 at 3:07 pm

    I hope the people of Seminole County are happy. Greenberg won the primary against a trusted (but pretty blah) incumbent.

  • PeterH

    December 1, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    Lock him up!

  • PeterH

    December 1, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    Lock him up!

  • Georgia Soros

    December 1, 2022 at 5:14 pm

    Florida politics Tom performed a lewd and lascivious act on me when I was 10.

  • Charles

    December 1, 2022 at 7:27 pm

    Sooooo how does not hit Gaetz as well? Something not right. Unless they are waiting to charge him independently.k

Comments are closed.


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