While prosecutors have recommended against charges for Representative Matt Gaetz in the child sex trafficking investigation, his friend, former colleague, and alleged co-conspirator, Joel Greenberg, turned over evidence that should have resulted in consequences for “public figures,” according to his attorney.
Gaetz was publicly alleged to have paid to transport a minor across state lines for the purposes of sex, as well as a list of salacious but less-criminal activities, amounting to paying women for sexual companionship.
He denied all wrongdoing, while simultaneously claiming that the information had come from a blackmail scheme, in which he was threatened with exposure if he didn’t pay up.
As it turned out, Greenberg took a plea deal and started spilling everything he knew to the state.
According to his attorney, Fritz Scheller, this included plenty of information on higher-profile political figures who then were not prosecuted, despite corroborating information from other witnesses.
Unfortunately, it was the credibility of the two central witnesses — presumably Greenberg and the victim — that prosecutors say led them to recommend against charges for Gaetz.
Now, Greenberg’s attorney is raising the question of exactly what message the legal system intends to send, when it lets a high-profile suspect walk away from such serious allegations.
He questioned whether the Department of Justice should consider holding public figures responsible, or whether it chooses to be complicit.
From his memo, via Law&Crime:
“Perhaps the DOJ in Washington is still moving forward on its prosecutions,” Scheller wrote. “Perhaps the DOJ will return the prosecutions to the capable hands of U.S. Attorneys in the Middle District or the State of Florida. Perhaps the DOJ will appoint a special counsel to address those individuals that implicate broader national concerns. Perhaps the DOJ are master strategists far beyond the capabilities of the undersigned. Or perhaps the DOJ is like Nero fiddling away as Rome burns.”
The Washington Post reported back in September that prosecutors were recommending no charges against Gaetz, following more than a year of investigation.
Though there’s been no public information about an official decision, there’s nothing to indicate that the DOJ rejected or ignored that advice.
However, Greenberg has reportedly shared that he and Gaetz thought the 17-year-old alleged victim was 19, and that she reached out to them through a ‘sugar daddy’ website.
While this doesn’t alter the seriousness of the allegations, prosecutors may fear that it would make a conviction harder to obtain.
As for Greenberg’s own credibility, he’s been charged with making false allegations against a political opponent before, an issue that would surely be brought up by the defense team of anyone against whom he bore witness.
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.