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Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg pleads guilty to 6 criminal charges

May 17 (UPI) -- Joel Greenberg, an associate of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, pleaded guilty Monday to six criminal counts, including sex trafficking a minor.

Greenberg, 37, a former Seminole County, Fla., tax collector, also pleaded guilty to five other crimes.

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The case led to a federal sex trafficking investigation of Gaetz, 39, a Republican who represents Florida's 1st Congressional District in the panhandle.

Greenberg pleaded guilty to six counts at the federal courthouse in Orlando on Monday, in exchange for dropping 27 additional counts. He also agreed to provide "substantial assistance" in the Gaetz investigation.

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The sex trafficking charge involves a 17-year-old girl and other charges include production of a false document, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, stalking and conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States.

Greenberg is expected to be sentenced in a few weeks, though no official court date has been set. He could face anywhere from 12 years to life in prison.

Greenberg is also obligated to pay nearly $655,000 in restitution to his victims, who include Seminole County taxpayers.

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Prosecutors say Greenberg used customers' old drivers licenses to create fake IDs with his photo and used fraudulent driver licenses while recruiting for sex on a website.

Republican lawmaker Gaetz confirmed in March he was under federal investigation over possible relationship with an underage girl, but claimed the allegations were part of an extortion attempt involving a former Department of Justice official. Last month, the House ethics committee opened an investigation.

Gaetz has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing.

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