On September 4, 2017, according to confession letterJoel Greenberg called his friend Congressman Matt Gaetz with some bad news.
Greenberg claimed that a teenager with whom both men had paid to have sex was underage. Now, two sources tell The Daily Beast, a cooperating witness can confirm the details of that call for one damn reason: He was at Greenberg’s office when the call took place.
Witness, “Big Joe” Ellicott — a longtime friend of Greenberg and an employee at the Seminole County tax office — recently pleaded guilty for fraud and drug charges as part of a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors.
Although Ellicott has so far dodged all charges of sex trafficking of minors, which Greenberg pleaded guilty until last May, he was present on the call Greenberg made with Gaetz on September 4, according to two people briefed on the matter. The call was brief – and Gaetz was the one to end the call, they said.
While sources do not know if Ellicott discussed the call with investigators, his account is likely to be of interest to criticism, as it matches a key claim Greenberg made separately in a letter of confession. That letter is now in the hands of federal agents, the former The Daily Beast disclosure.
In a letter that Greenberg wrote after being indicted in late 2020 as part of an effort to get a presidential pardon, the Orlando-area tax official testified that he, Gaetz, and others had sex with him. a minor they believe is 19 years old. time. Greenberg first learned she was underage after receiving an “anonymous tip” on September 4, 2017, he wrote. He then confirmed her age by incorrectly querying the teen’s personal information in the state’s Florida driver’s license database, which he had access to as an employee. local tax collection.
“I immediately called the MP and warned him to stay away from this person and informed him that she was underage,” Greenberg wrote in the handwritten draft of the letter, adding. that Gaetz was “also shocked and confused by this revelation.”
“There was no further contact with this person until after her 18th birthday,” he added.
A month after The Daily Beast’s report, the same day appeared in another key document: Greenberg’s Oath plea agreement with the federal government. The deal also offers what could prove to be a damning extra; it includes not only the date, but also the timestamp until the minute Greenberg accessed the DMV database to look up the girl’s age — 1:29 pm.
Ellicott will be able to connect the two pieces of information together.
If investigators have Greenberg’s — or Gaetz’s — phone records, the metadata could confirm whether Greenberg made the alleged call “immediately” after accessing the database. . But those records would not reveal what was said. Ellicott can provide that information and confirm that Greenberg did indeed warn Gaetz, who was first elected to Congress less than a year earlier. (Federal agent seize Republican panhandle . phone around December 2020)
Reportedly on Wednesday, Ellicott’s attorneys declined to comment. Gaetz’s office did not respond to questions about the congressman’s recollection of the phone call, instead echoing a statement they had released earlier: “After nearly a year of false rumors, not a single word has not been reported. any piece of evidence regarding Congressman Gaetz’s wrongdoing. We remain focused on our work representing Florida. ”
Ellicott hung out in Greenberg’s circle of friends for many years. However, unlike Greenberg, the former pawn shop owner never became close to Gaetz, although they did attend some of the same parties during the time period in question, according to multiple people familiar with them.
But Ellicott’s testimony, if true, would contradict Gaetz’s repeated assertion that he had never had sex with a girl his age as an adult. As he told The Daily Beast last March, “” The last time I had sex with a seventeen year old, I was seventeen. Instead, it shows that Gaetz was aware of this fact almost all of his time in the House.
The statement would also cast doubt on Gaetz’s objections that he was blindfolded when New York Times Firstly report charges in March 2021, which he initially said were just an attempt to blackmail him and his wealthy father. He has confirmed the investigation since then.
While Greenberg claims he warned Gaetz to “stay away” from teenagers, The Daily Beast report Eight months after the alleged warning, congressman Venmo’d Greenberg $900 in two back-to-back payments, wrote in a memo field “Hit up ___,” using the nickname for the girl.
At that time, the girl turned 18 years old. Gaetz turned 36 earlier that week – twice her age.