Joel Greenberg, the former Florida official whose crimes in the state ensnared Rep. Matt Gaetz in a federal sex trafficking investigation, has been providing the Justice Department with new information as he continues to cooperate with authorities following a guilty plea earlier this year.
At a brief hearing in Orlando federal court Monday, Roger Handberg, an assistant US attorney, said that Greenberg has made allegations to investigators that "take us to some places we did not anticipate."
"What investigators do is they follow up on that to try to corroborate the information that's been provided," Handberg said.
Greenberg, a former county tax commissioner and close friend of Gaetz's, pleaded guilty to six charges in May, admitting that he had knowingly solicited and paid a minor for sex.
As part of his plea agreement, he was required to give "substantial assistance" to investigators as they build out related cases. His lawyer has said that Greenberg has held a series of proffers, or meetings, with the Justice Department.
Handberg did not say what investigations Greenberg was providing new information to authorities about, although CNN has reported that Greenberg has told the Justice Department about encounters he and Gaetz had with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex.
Greenberg faced dozens of criminal charges before his guilty plea, and the ongoing investigations related to him have also roped in a circle of local politicians and businessmen who authorities are scrutinizing for possible fraud.
In court Monday, Handberg called Greenberg a "prolific criminal."
"Mr. Greenberg was not alone," Handberg said.
Gaetz, who is also under investigation for obstruction of justice related to the investigation into him, has not been charged with a crime. He has repeatedly denied having sex with an underage woman.
The hearing was held following a request by Greenberg's attorney to delay Greenberg's sentencing for a second time so that he could continue to provide information. The Justice Department had not opposed the request.
Handberg called the need for a second delay "unusual" but added the department was in an "unusual situation given the number of different investigations and lines of investigation we are pursuing."
The Justice Department has added two top prosecutors from Washington to the child sex trafficking investigation of Representative Matt Gaetz, according to two people briefed on the matter, a sign of the complex and high-stakes nature of the inquiry into Mr. Gaetz, a Florida Republican who is one of former President Donald J. Trump’s closest congressional allies.
The prosecutors — one a public corruption investigator with an expertise in child exploitation crimes, and the other a top leader of the public corruption unit — have been working on the Florida-based investigation for at least three months, the people said.
It is not unusual for prosecutors from the Justice Department in Washington to be added to local teams of federal investigators in high-profile cases that require a deep and specific expertise like sex crimes.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) made an unexpected announcement during a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
"I think someone may be trying to kill me," Gaetz said shortly after he was recognized on the House floor. "If they are successful, I would like my constituents and my family to know who stopped their arrest."
Gaetz then claimed that he received a death threat from someone who claimed to be a professional hit man on Twitter and who supposedly traveled to Washington D.C.
According to Gaetz, the Capitol Police recommended that the individual be arrested, but the Department of Justice supposedly refused to take action.