Joel Greenberg is a former Seminole County, Florida, tax collector who was indicted in 2020 on stalking and sex trafficking allegations by federal authorities who accused him of having “sugar daddy relationships.”
Greenberg’s name was back in the news when The New York Times reported that federal authorities are investigating Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida on possible sex trafficking violations involving a 17-year-old girl. The newspaper reported that the investigation into whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with the teen, emerged from Greenberg’s prosecution. Gaetz hasn’t been charged or arrested in that probe.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Greenberg Was the Elected Tax Collector When He Was Accused of Sending Letters to a Political Opponent’s School
The Department of Justice press release on the indictment says that United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez had charged Joel Micah Greenberg (35, Lake Mary) “with stalking and unlawful use of a means of identification of another person. If convicted on both counts, Greenberg faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.”
According to the indictment, Greenberg, who was the elected Seminole County Tax Collector, “engaged in a course of conduct that caused and attempted to cause substantial emotional distress to a political opponent who worked at a school located in the Middle District of Florida. As part of that course of conduct, Greenberg caused letters to be sent to the school where the employee worked. The letters falsely represented that they had been sent by an anonymous ‘very concerned student’ of the school who had information that the school employee had engaged in sexual misconduct with a particular student, which Greenberg knew was false.”
According to the release, Greenberg “also caused a Facebook account to be set up that claimed to belong to a ‘very concerned teacher’ at the school where the school employee had worked. Greenberg caused postings to be made using that account that falsely alleged that the school employee had engaged in sexual misconduct with a student. Greenberg also caused an imposter Twitter account to be set up using the name and photograph of the school employee, without that person’s knowledge, consent, or authorization. Greenberg caused postings to be made using that account that falsely represented that the school employee was a segregationist and in favor of white supremacy.”
The first indictment was handed down in June 2020.
2. A Second Wave of Charges Accused Greenberg of Having ‘Sugar Daddy Relationships’
Greenberg was later hit with new federal charges, including sex trafficking. He denies all allegations.
The second superseding indictment says that “During the time when he was the Seminole County Tax Collector, Joel Micah Greenberg used his access to the Seminole County Tax Collector’s Office to take surrendered driver licenses before they were shredded.”
He was accused in an indictment of improperly using a state driver’s license database to obtain personal information on people “with whom (he) was engaged in ‘sugar daddy’ relationships.”
The indictment says he created false driver’s licenses.
According to the television station, he was also accused of creating fake driver’s licenses to “to produce a false identification document to facilitate his efforts to engage in commercial sex acts.” He was accused of soliciting “a minor between the ages of 14 and 17” in 2017.
“We deny the allegations and we look forward to the trial,” Greenberg’s attorney Mark Horowitz said in a statement to WFTV.
A photo on Facebook showed Greenberg speaking at a Trump rally.
3. Greenberg, Called a ‘Political Ally of Gaetz,’ Visited the White House With Gaetz & Retweeted His Political Commentary
The Times reported that Greenberg once visited the White House with Gaetz, pointing to the above photo that Greenberg posted on Twitter. Gaetz is a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump.
According to the Times, Greenberg was a “political ally” of Gaetz. Orlando Weekly reported that Gaetz was a political donor of Greenberg, once giving him the maximum possible.
His Twitter page reads, “Daddy to Madison and Micah. Blockchain Pioneer. Patriot. @JohnMorganESQ says I don’t lie.” His profile picture is a family photo with his wife and two kids.
Greenberg most recently tweeted in February – a retweet that read, “POTUS just said ‘no one should go to jail for a drug offense.'” He also touted Bitcoin and wrote, “I have an open schedule.” He retweeted an article discussing alleged “illegal” votes in Michigan for Joe Biden.
In June 2020, he retweeted a Gaetz tweet that read, “Matt Morgan is a rising star in the Republican Party. He’s exactly what we need in Florida to energize the MAGA movement.” He retweeted another Gaetz tweet that read, “The Iraq War was a tragic failure.”
He was also photographed with Roger Stone, a former Trump adviser accused of crimes but later pardoned by the president.
Greenberg also wrote tweets like, “I’m sick of all these white supremacist and Russians interfering with our country” and “If any of the protesters come near my house…I will sneeze and cough on them. Beware.”
Gateway Pundit, a staunchly conservative website, once called Greenberg “a high-profile supporter of President Trump in the Sunshine State,” saying he “has made waves before for his commitment to the 2nd Amendment and our founding documents. As one of the youngest constitutional officers elected in the United States, Greenberg has also brought much needed innovation to his tax offices, including the offering of tax services online and buying old bank properties in order to provide those services in a drive-thru capacity.”
“We need to open the damn economy. Burning down the house in order to save it is not working and total bullshit. Enough already. Time to disobey the orders and stand up for our civil liberties being shit on,” the site quoted him as saying on social media of COVID-19 lockdowns. Greenberg later wrote on Facebook that he had come down with COVID-19.
4. Greenberg, Who Was Accused of Anti-Muslim Bigotry, Was Jailed on Probation Violations
Greenberg was jailed for probation violations, one after he was accused of traveling outside of the Florida Middle District without a judge’s permission, according to News13.
Greenberg was controversial before the indictments. According to Orlando Weekly, he was accused of having a “legacy of anti-Muslim bigotry and corruption.”
In August 2018, he shared a social media post that said: “Very simple question…Name just ONE society in the developed world that has benefited in ANY WAY from the introduction of more Muslims. Just one. Asking for a friend.” That, according to the Orlando news site, led to calls for his resignation.
He was accused of discrimination in a 2018 lawsuit by a Muslim woman he fired, and another employee accused Greenberg of firing him for supporting another Republican in a primary. The Muslim woman accused him of firing minority employees.
“No valid reason existed to terminate Plaintiff,” the lawsuit stated. “No valid reason was given to Plaintiff regarding her termination.”
5. Greenberg Was Elected as Tax Collector in 2016
A LinkedIn page for the Seminole County Tax Collector’s office said of Greenberg, “Joel M. Greenberg was elected Seminole County Tax Collector in November 2016 and took office in January 2017. As an innovator and entrepreneur, Mr. Greenberg brings extensive experience in business and technology to the Seminole County Tax Collector’s office.”
It added, “Since taking office as Tax Collector, Mr. Greenberg has directed the office to begin using new technologies to improve customer service, adding new services to increase customer convenience and to streamline the Office’s budget which will increase the amount of hard earned dollars returned to taxpayers.”
The page continued, “Mr. Greenberg’s top priority is to serve Seminole County taxpayers and customers. He continues to focus on providing faster, more efficient customer service by embracing new technology to improve customer interactions and access to our offices.”