The most recent charges against Joel Greenberg come on the heels of evidence that has been mounting against him since June 2020 when the former Seminole County Tax Collector was first indicted on federal counts of stalking and child sex trafficking.
As the investigation has continued, the depth of Greenberg’s criminal conduct has unraveled, and along with it a further probe into U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, and Florida Rep. Anthony Sabatini. The 21 recent charges brought against Greenberg add to the 12 for which he currently awaits trial.
Greenberg first ascended politically when he ousted incumbent Ray Valdes in the 2016 Republican primary for Seminole County Tax Collector. Echoing the rhetoric of campaign tycoon Roger Stone, he ran on the claim that he was an entrepreneur and businessman and that his campaign was self-funded.
According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Greenberg’s father “founded an empire, Greenberg Dental, which now has over 90 practices across Florida.” According to the report, Greenberg become a millionaire primarily because of his stake in the dental practice.
Greenberg was elected to the office of Seminole County Tax Collector in November 2016, ran a campaign funded by his family’s fortune, and formally took office in January 2017.
Once elected, it was also reported that Greenberg would abuse the power of his office for personal and political gain: employees say he would wear the Tax Collector’s Badge around his neck like a cop and tried to use his position to get out of a speeding ticket.
His first political battle pushing controversial legislation — one of the few times he would succeed in such an endeavor — allowed employees to carry guns at work, a move that even former Attorney General Pam Bondi opposed.
Then, he garnered attention from the courts when he laid off minority employees without providing explanations. In 2018, former Seminole County employee Minaz-Mukhi Skees filed a discrimination lawsuit against Greenberg. She cited her abrupt layoff and his Islamophobic social media posts as evidence for discrimination in the civil suit.
Prior to the federal investigation, which began in April 2019, Greenberg had been using his position as Tax Collector to acquire driver’s licenses before they were shredded, mining the information in an illegal database funded by taxpayers. In some cases, he also used the repossessed licenses to make fake IDs for underage girls.
After his 2020 indictment, Greenberg was placed on house arrest with an ankle monitor. In March 2021, Greenberg violated probation by driving to Jupiter, Florida, after his curfew to confront his wife and mother-in-law.
On April 1,Greenberg was charged with using $432,000 in taxpayer money to buy cryptocurrency and signed basketball memorabilia. So far, he has complied with federal investigators in the probe of Gaetz.
Greenberg’s lawyers have said they expect him to make a plea deal this month for the additional charges brought against him as well as the pending charges of sex-trafficking of a minor, identity theft, wire fraud and stalking. If convicted, he faces a minimum of 10 years.
Featured image: Seminole County line. Unmodified image by Michael Rivera used under a Creative Commons license. (https://bit.ly/3smHPpl)
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