New name emerges in Gaetz investigation
The scandal surrounding Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has now ensnared Joe Ellicot, a friend and former employee of a tax collector who has already pleaded guilty to an array of crimes associated with the probe. Joe Ellicott, the associate of Joel Greenberg, was included in a federal grand jury subpoena sent to a different individual that was obtained by Politico.
The subpoena also lists Gaetz and Greenberg, the former Seminole County tax collector who this week pleaded guilty to six federal crimes on Monday, including sex trafficking of a minor.
The subpoena, which was issued on Dec. 28, says the grand jury is investigating alleged crimes “involving commercial sex acts with adult and minor women, as well as obstruction of justice.”
It is looking to obtain any communications, documents, recordings and payments the subpoena’s recipient had with Ellicott, Gaetz and Greenberg since the start of 2016.
Two sources familiar with the inquiry told Politico that Ellicot is also being investigated over allegations he engaged in sex trafficking with a minor.
Gaetz’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill, but the Florida Republican has said in the past that he barely knew Ellicot.
The subpoena also mentions Halsey Beshears, a former Republican state House member associated with Gaetz.
Ellicot was a close friend of Greenberg who was later hired to be part of his office once Greenberg was elected tax collector. Ellicot was ultimately accused of sexually harassing a woman who worked in the Seminole County tax collecting office.
Greenberg admitted this week as part of his plea deal that he recruited women for commercial sex acts and paid them more than $70,000 between 2016 and 2018. He also said he paid at least one underage girl to have sex with him and other men and introduced the underage girl to others who also “engaged in commercial sex acts.”
Greenberg also pleaded guilty to counts of fraud, stalking and aggravated identity theft.
Greenberg’s cooperation with prosecutors raises the legal jeopardy surrounding Gaetz, who has denied that he ever paid women for sex or had sex with underage girls.
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When Matt Gaetz attended a 2019 GOP fundraiser in Orlando, his date that night was someone he knew well: a paid escort and amateur Instagram model who led a cocaine-fueled party after the event. The Florida congressman’s one-time wingman, Joel Greenberg, will identify that escort to investigators as one of more than 15 young women Gaetz paid for sex. But what distinguishes this woman, Megan Zalonka, is that she turned her relationship with Greenberg into a taxpayer-funded no-show job that earned her an estimated $7,000 to $17,500.
The scandal engulfing Matt Gaetz, one of Donald Trump’s brashest supporters in Congress, deepened on Friday after an associate admitted sex trafficking involving a minor and agreed to cooperate with investigators. Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector in Florida, said he and unidentified others paid a 17-year-old girl for sex and he provided the girl with drugs, according to court papers cited by multiple media outlets. Greenberg, 37, is expected to plead guilty to six federal charges, including financial crimes, in court in Orlando on Monday.