ORLANDO, Fla. — A federal judge on Friday entered a not-guilty plea from Joel Greenberg, an ally of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, on all 33 charges including nearly two dozen new charges filed against him.
What You Need To Know
- Judge in Orlando federal court enters not-guilty plea for Joel Greenberg
- Embattled ex-Seminole County tax collector is associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz
- Arraignment hearing was brief, and Greenberg and lawyer were not present
- RELATED: Joel Greenberg, Gaetz Ally, Granted Plea Deadline in Orlando Federal Court
The procedural action by U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Hoffman came a day after another federal judge granted Greenberg a May 15 deadline on a plea agreement. Friday's hearing lasted about one minute.
Greenberg on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to the latest 22 charges, filed March 31 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.
The case has brought renewed scrutiny on Gaetz. He and Greenberg are being examined by federal prosecutors over allegations they may have paid underage girls for sex with money and gifts.
Neither Greenberg, who'd waived his right to appear in court, nor his lawyer, Fritz Scheller, were at Friday's brief arraignment hearing at the George C. Young Federal Annex Courthouse in downtown Orlando.
On Thursday during a short status hearing, U.S. District Judge Gregory A. Presnell set a May 15 deadline for both sides to reach a plea agreement, signaling that a deal could be coming for the former Seminole County tax collector. If no plea agreement is reached by then, then the trial would be set for July.
His latest indictment, filed in federal court last Tuesday, accuses him of using his position to embezzle more than $400,000. He’s also accused of resurrecting two defunct companies after his arrest last year, then fraudulently obtaining more than $432,000 in loans meant to help small businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Greenberg was initially charged by federal investigators with sex trafficking of a child and an identity theft scheme against a political foe. In all, he's facing 33 charges. He has pled not guilty to all of them.
"If I get a plea agreement in the case, it’s not something that I’m going to sign right away. I have to go over it with my client. There’s also some pushback and negotiation,” Scheller said.