Charges against Gaetz unlikely in federal sex trafficking investigation

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The federal investigation into Florida Rep.’s alleged sexual encounters with teenage girls Matt Gaetz is walking out and charges are not expected against the bloated Republican congressman, a person familiar with the investigation said Friday.

Federal prosecutors and the FBI began investigating Gaetz during the Trump administration in late 2020 over possible sex crimes related to allegations that he paid women for sex and traveled abroad at least once to parties attended by teens under the age of 18.

Gaetz, who denied having sex with minors as an adult, declined to comment on the development. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. Gaetz is a close and outspoken ally of former President Donald Trump.

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The Washington Post reported first On Friday, professional prosecutors recommended not to bring charges against Gaetz, in part over concerns about the credibility of potential witnesses. It would be highly unusual for political appointees at the Justice Department to proceed with a prosecution despite opposition from top officials.

Gaetz’s risk in the investigation appeared to increase last year when a former close friend, former Seminole County, Florida, tax collector Joel Greenberg, pleaded guilty to six federal crimes, including a sex trafficking charge and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. .

The investigation into Greenberg led authorities to investigate Gaetz and several other men in Florida and led to the prosecution of Joe Ellicott, a collectibles dealer named on a subpoena of the federal grand jury along with Gaetz.

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However, signs of activity in the probe appeared to be slowing in recent months, with some forecasting action in the case by the end of the summer. Earlier this month, as the Justice Department entered a pre-election quiet period for politically charged investigations without charges being filed, the prospects of an indictment against Gaetz appeared to be diminishing.

Greenberg’s conviction has been repeatedly delayed because his association with the FBI continued. The exact reasons for the delays were unclear, but defendants assisting the government in an investigation generally want the court to provide as much assistance as possible, including a grand jury or witness testimony if necessary.

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“Mr. Greenberg has been working with federal prosecutors in active investigations currently being conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Florida and the Department of Justice in Washington DC, as well as other jurisdictions,” Greenberg’s attorney Fritz Scheller said in a statement. declaration. a July court filing.

The submission, along with other information provided to the court under seal, prompted U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Presnell to postpone Greenberg’s sentencing until December 1.

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