Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is still facing scrutiny from federal prosecutors over a range of potentially criminal acts on his part, per a new report from The Daily Beast utilizing revelations to that effect from eight sources.
The lack of publicly visible action directly targeting the Congressman doesn’t mean the Gaetz investigation is winding down or already ended, the report indicates. Gaetz is specifically under investigation for, among other points of contention, his potential involvement in child sex trafficking — an offense to which an associate of the Congressman, Joel Greenberg, already pleaded guilty. Greenberg also agreed to provide prosecutors with information relevant to the ongoing probe. Criminal defense attorney Lyle Mazin, who represents a witness in the sprawling investigation, told The Daily Beast in reference to federal prosecutor Roger Handberg: “He’s methodical. He doesn’t let anything go… If you’re going after a monster, you have to get it right—especially when you have a bunch of Trump supporters who’ll come after you.”
Handberg is currently at the helm of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida. “Eight people with direct knowledge of the probe confirmed to The Daily Beast that the case is still unfolding—albeit at a methodical pace—as federal prosecutors work their way across a number of spokes of possible criminality,” as the publication explains it. A lawyer for someone who was already hit with charges in the investigation — whose identity wasn’t specified in the report — told the Beast prosecutors “only strike when the case is tightly built, unfortunately.” Two attorneys evidently with ties to the case indicated to the Beast they anticipate any public “announcements” implicating the Congressman would likely emerge following the midterm elections in November in tandem with concerns from prosecutors about the potential appearance of political interference.
Federal prosecutors already indicated their seriousness in going after the Congressman from northern Florida, seizing his cellphone and the cellphone of a former girlfriend, who testified to a grand jury working on the case. According to available allegations, Greenberg directly informed Gaetz at one point that a teenager paid for sex was, in fact, a minor when the payments were made, and Joe Ellicott — a friend of Greenberg — was reportedly there when Joel told the Trump ally of the young individual’s age. Ellicott pleaded guilty to other criminal offenses, including illegally selling Adderall. Documentation confirms connections between Gaetz and the young individual in question, who is now over the age of 18. At one point, Gaetz paid Greenberg a total of $900 and wrote in one of the memo lines for the money that the latter should “hit up” the young woman who, at that point, only recently turned 18. Greenberg sent a total of $900 to three young women the next morning, identifying the money in memo lines as for “tuition” and “school.”
Gaetz is under investigation for potentially victimizing the same then-minor whose victimization led to the child sex trafficking allegations against Greenberg. Per The Daily Beast, two prosecutors at the Justice Department in D.C. identified as Todd Gee and Lauren Britsch are leading the arm of the investigation focusing on Gaetz. Gaetz is also under scrutiny after potentially getting travel to the Bahamas financially covered, with prostitutes part of the trip, amid an attempt to secure support for certain cannabis-related policies in violation of anti-corruption laws. The individual trafficked by Greenberg as a minor was on the trip, although Greenberg himself was apparently absent, according to publicly available information.
Orlando attorney David Bear told the Beast that more individuals could expect investigative scrutiny. “We know for a fact that there are dozens of other actors who were involved in drug-fueled sex parties with underage girls and other criminal financial schemes,” the attorney told the outlet. “If at the end of the day only two or three people are held to account by the feds, that would be a real miscarriage of justice and transparency.”