The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has concluded its multi-year investigation into Matt Gaetz, a Republican representative for Flordia, who has been accused of sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl.
According to a story initially reported by CNN, the DOJ will not press charges against Gaetz, who has served as representative since 2017.
This comes off the heels of federal prosecutors recommending that no charges be brought forth in September of 2022, citing fears that two key witnesses - the 17-year-old girl Gaetz allegedly had relations with and Joel Greenberg, a friend of Gaetz - would not be seen as credible to the jury and as a result it would be difficult for DOJ prosecutors to obtain a conviction.
The DOJ began investigating Gaetz in late 2020, looking into claims that Gaetz was having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl whom he also paid to travel across states.
Gaetz has denied this claim and instead brought forth a counterargument that he was the victim of criminal extortion by a former DOJ official. This argument turned out to be accurate, and the official was eventually revealed to be Stephen Alford, a Floridian developer. Alford attempted to extort the Gaetz family for $25 million to make the sex trafficking allegations disappear. Alford was arrested on August 31, 2021, on counts of wire fraud and the attempted prevention of an electronic device’s seizure.
Near the end of his presidency, Gaetz also privately asked then-President Donald Trump for a blanket pardon for any crimes he and an unidentified group of allies may have committed. The White House decided this would set a bad precedent and declined this proposition.
Conservative political commentator Tucker Carlson had Matt Gaetz on his popular Fox talk show on March 30, 2021, where he categorically denied allegations involving his relations with a 17-year-old girl.
The House Ethics Committee opened its investigation into Gaetz on April 9th, 2021, citing claims that Gaetz “may have engaged in sexual misconduct and illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift."
In June 2021, the DOJ broadened its investigation to include a charge of obstruction of justice due to a phone call Gaetz made with a witness. Later in the investigation, an ex-girlfriend of Gaetz’s and Florida radio host Joseph “Big Joe” Ellicott - another Gaetz associate - began cooperating with the DOJ.
Joel Greenberg, an associate of Gaetz’s, was arrested in 2020 after being indicted on 33 criminal counts. After his arrest, Greenberg began cooperating with the DOJ’s investigation into Gaetz. He attempted to seek a pardon from then-President Trump by sending him a letter of confession stating that he and Gaetz had paid a 17-year-old woman in exchange for sex.
In May of 2021, Greenberg pled guilty to the federal charges of sex trafficking of a child, production of a false identification document, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, stalking, and conspiracy. Greenberg must register as a sex offender and was sentenced to 11 years in prison in December 2022.
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