“An Entire Universe of Malfeasance, Corruption, and Depravity:” Joel Greenberg Promotes the Value of His Snitching

Joel Greenberg — the Roger Stone and Matt Gaetz associate who pled guilty in May 2021 to trafficking a minor, identity theft, wire fraud, stalking, and conspiracy — will be sentenced on December 1.

(h/t to Sandi Bachom for the screen cap of Gaetz’s tweet)

In accordance with a schedule set in July, when Greenberg last extended his sentencing date to expand the time he could cooperate with the government, DOJ submitted its 5K letter (in which it tells the judge how much credit Greenberg should get for his cooperation) on November 10. The government submitted its sentencing memorandum yesterday.

Greenberg’s sentencing memorandum was initially due yesterday as well, but his attorney, Fritz Scheller, got an extension until next Monday, in part so he could submit this response to the 5K letter.

Judge Gregory Presnell set a pre-sentencing hearing for November 30 to hear arguments about the proper guidelines to apply.

The government sentencing memorandum — which repeatedly seems to express amazement at how Greenberg kept criming even as he realized the government was hot on his trail — is worth reading on its own. Here are some highlights:

Greenberg had only just gotten started in his efforts to defraud the Tax Collector’s Office to fund his personal cryptocurrency purchases.


In January 2019, Greenberg told one of his family members that he was in “big trouble” and asked for $200,000. Id. at ¶ 102. Rather than repay the Tax Collector’s Office what he had obtained through his fraud, however, Greenberg used those funds to purchase more cryptocurrency for himself.


The one thing that Greenberg did not do, however, was stop his fraud. Greenberg continued to defraud the Tax Collector’s Office to obtain funds to purchase cryptocurrency for himself. His only reaction to the federal investigation was to alter his scheme.


As part of this scheme, Greenberg continued to sell the cryptocurrency machines that he had purchased with Tax Collector’s Office funds. In addition, Greenberg used some of the machines to mine cryptocurrency for himself. As part of those efforts, Greenberg used Tax Collector’s Office funds to build a server room in his personal office, and he operated some of the machines at the Lake Mary branch. Id. at ¶ 134. Because of how those machines were daisy chained together at the Lake Mary branch, they started a fire that damaged the machines and the branch office.


After he was released on pretrial supervision, Greenberg continued with his scheme, executing an SBA loan agreement for $133,000 only a day after he was ordered by a United States Magistrate Judge not to commit any new offenses.

It all feels like a Coen Brothers movie. Sex with minors, ecstasy, rat-fucking, and flaming cryptocurrency servers.

With regards to Greenberg’s cooperation, one of his crimes — stalking — deserves particular attention. When someone filed to run against him as tax collector, Greenberg manufactured a claim that his opponent was sleeping with a student.

In the midst of defrauding the Tax Collector’s Office, Greenberg added stalking to his repertoire of criminal activity. See id. at ¶¶ 138-147. On October 4, 2019, an individual who was a teacher at a school, filed to run for the elected office of Seminole County Tax Collector in 2020, against Greenberg. Id. at ¶ 138. In retaliation, Greenberg caused nine letters to be sent to the teacher’s school. The letters falsely represented that they were being sent by an anonymous “very concerned student” who had information that the teacher had engaged in sexual misconduct with a particular student. Id. at ¶ 139. The following month, in November 2019, Greenberg set up a Facebook account that falsely claimed to belong to a “very concerned teacher” at the school. Using that account, Greenberg made similar false allegations to the ones previously made in his letters. Id. at ¶¶ 143-145. Further, he created an imposter Twitter account, using the name and photograph of his political opponent, without the teacher’s knowledge or consent. Greenberg then published, using that account, a series of racially motivated posts that he falsely represented were being made by the teacher, and representing that the teacher was a racist. Id. at ¶ 142.

This is classic Republican projection and rat-fuckery. But it is also a really damaging confession for anyone who might want to turn snitch in the future.

I’m sure Greenberg knows all sorts of things about what his sleazeball buddies have done and shared some of it with prosecutors. But the fact that Greenberg manufactured false allegations against someone would make him really easy to discredit as a witness about anything for which there wasn’t a whole bunch of independent documentation. Prosecutors use fraudsters as cooperating witnesses all the time, but to do so they need a bunch of corroboration, because otherwise jurors aren’t going to believe the claims of someone who confessed to manufacturing false claims for personal gain in the past.

With that said, I wanted to look closer at the sentencing dispute. Greenberg thinks his cooperation has been more valuable than the government has given him credit for. Partly, that’s because he thinks he should get a 4-level reduction for each of what he says are seven prosecutions he has been a part of (or will be as downstream conspiracy prosecutions progress or would have been had the defendant not died), rather than the 10-level reduction the government says he should get for all his cooperation. Partly, he thinks the mandatory 2-year minimum for the identity theft he pled to, which would be consecutive to his other sentence, should be set aside given his cooperation.

But as Greenberg’s and all other plea agreements make clear, he doesn’t get to decide.

[T]he defendant understands that the determination as to whether “substantial assistance” has been provided or what type of motion related thereto will be filed, if any, rests solely with the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, and the defendant agrees that defendant cannot and will not challenge that determination, whether by appeal, collateral attack, or otherwise.

It’s solely up to the government to decide. And here’s what the government thinks of Greenberg’s cooperation:

In summary, the defendant has provided truthful and timely information to the United States which, in part, resulted in the charging of: two individuals involved in a conspiracy to provide bribes and kickbacks to the defendant,2 one individual involved in a conspiracy to submit false claims to the SBA and to bribe an SBA employee,3 and one individual involved in a conspiracy to defraud the Tax Collector’s Office.4 In addition, the defendant has provided substantial assistance on other matters discussed in the sealed Supplemental Memorandum Regarding Defendant’s Cooperation.

The United States has acknowledged the value added as a result of the defendant’s cooperation, and to reflect the significance of his assistance, the United States has moved for a 10-level reduction in his offense level. This is however, where his mitigation and reasons for any type of reduction in offense level should end. Considering all of the above referenced information including (1) the nature and circumstances of the instant offenses, (2) the defendant’s history and characteristics, and (3) the need for the sentence imposed to provide just punishment, adequate deterrence, respect for the law, and protection of the public, the United States respectfully submits that no downward variance is warranted.

It’s the “substantial assistance on other matters discussed in the sealed Supplemental Memorandum Regarding Defendant’s Cooperation” we’re all particularly interested in, what, in Greenberg’s response, he calls “an entire universe of malfeasance, corruption, and depravity.”

I’m sure it is.

I’m sure it is.

This is the stuff, including the Gaetz sex trafficking allegations, that has shown up in the press.

Most recently, it showed up — with an on the record quote from Scheller boosting the import of Greenberg’s cooperation — in a NYT story on multiple January 6 prosecutors’ investigation of the ties between January 6 and the 2018 Stop the Steal effort.

In recent months, prosecutors overseeing the seditious conspiracy case of five members of the Proud Boys have expanded their investigation to examine the role that Jacob Engels — a Florida Proud Boy who accompanied Mr. Stone to Washington for Jan. 6 — played in the 2018 protests, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The prosecutors want to know whether Mr. Engels received any payments or drew up any plans for the Florida demonstration, and whether he has ties to other people connected to the Proud Boys’ activities in the run-up to the storming of the Capitol.

Different prosecutors connected to the Jan. 6 investigation have also been asking questions about efforts by Mr. Stone — a longtime adviser to Mr. Trump — to stave off a recount in the 2018 Senate race in Florida, according to other people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Gaetz, Republican of Florida, participated in the 2018 demonstration, but the extent and nature of his involvement remain unclear.

Fritz Scheller, a lawyer for Joel Greenberg, a local Florida tax collector who is cooperating with the government in an investigation into Mr. Gaetz, declined in response to questions to discuss the specifics of what his client told the authorities about the 2018 incident. Still, Mr. Scheller said, “A significant aspect of Mr. Greenberg’s cooperation has been his assistance in matters involving efforts to subvert the democratic process.” [my emphasis]

What is going on overtly in this sentencing dispute, with Greenberg arguing for the value of his cooperation, likely parallels what has generated a lot of press coverage (particularly about any sex trafficking case against Gaetz) in recent years. We likely got stories about “an entire universe of malfeasance, corruption, and depravity,” including the expectation that Gaetz would be indicted, because those close to Greenberg were trying to raise the value of his cooperation in the public sphere and pressure prosecutors for an indictment of Gaetz, which would have increased the credit he’d get for cooperating, another 4-level sentencing reduction, Greenberg says it would have gotten him.

None of that’s to say that Greenberg’s cooperation hasn’t been corroborated (on some points) or valuable: The government explicitly says he was “truthful” and uses the phrase, “substantial assistance,” that prosecutors use to describe real meat, often meat that they expect will lead to indictments.

It’s just that at this moment, the first time the government has been able to say publicly how valuable they think Greenberg’s cooperation is in the face of all the sex, ecstasy, rat-fucking, and flaming cryptocurrency servers that Greenberg pled guilty to, they say all that truthful and substantial assistance doesn’t outweigh the fraud as much as Greenberg would like it to.

None of that says Gaetz is in the clear, though the report that federal prosecutors won’t charge him for the sex trafficking because, “a conviction is unlikely in part because of credibility questions with the two central witnesses,” accords with what we see in the sentencing memo. Greenberg would have particular credibility problems on that count because Greenberg manufactured a claim of sex crimes in the past.

That said, I find it interesting that Gaetz decided, at the last minute, not to attend Trump’s rally in Florida last night, purportedly because of rain that wasn’t affecting travel in the least. And in Scheller’s motion for an extension, he described five hours of work with federal and state prosecutors (which may or may not relate to Greenberg), but also resolving an unexpected issue that might impact Greenberg’s sentence.

Because of the recent tropical storm (Nicole) and associated federal and state court closures on November 9 and November 10, as well as the federal holiday on November 11, 2022, the undersigned has had multiple case matters continued to this week. Indeed, today the undersigned has already spent five hours in both state court and in an extensive proffer with the Government.


Additionally, the undersigned is currently in the process of resolving an unexpected issue (both today and tomorrow) that could impact Mr. Greenberg’s sentence.

So there may be recent developments of interest, developments that had to wait until courthouses could be opened after rain that was affecting travel.

I hope we’ll get a slew of new titillating new stories about Joel Greenberg’s universe of malfeasance, corruption, and depravity when that sealed cooperation memo is unsealed (or, better yet, if it leads to indictments). But for now, the advent of this sentencing dispute is a helpful reminder that the motives that drive reporting often require overselling the value of the testimony of an admitted fraudster.

29 replies
  1. emptywheel says:

    I’ll note that the unexpected closures of state and federal courthouses would have meant there was no day after the election last week when courthouses in Florida were open.

    But that may just be a coinkydink.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Well, there was Hurricane Nicole and its aftermath, so that might be a reason.

      Gaetz was re-elected anyway even with all of this stuff in the press. It’s an indictment of FL values and its fundamental hypocrisy about GOP leaders. It’s too bad Florida Man can’t be shamed.

      • emptywheel says:

        That’s explicitly the reason, as noted above.

        My only point is that it unexpectedly forced the rescheduling of things that would have happened in the days between the election and the due dates on the 5K letter and the sentencing memo(s), had his been on time.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          I think it might be the word coinkydink that threw us. Those who live in states with earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other abrupt terrifying events may not have understood the intention. Please feel free to discard my lengthy previous comment about weather conditions.

          And thank you very much for this post!

        • Rugger_9 says:

          Fair enough, and FWIW it would be asking a lot to keep a skeleton crew for emergency motions in an unsafe environment. Any trouble getting continuances?

      • bidrec says:

        ” It’s too bad Florida Man can’t be shamed.”

        ’twas always thus:

        “WASHINGTON, July 29 [1976]—The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly today to reprimand Representative Robert L. F. Sikes, Democrat of Florida, for financial misconduct.

        The vote was 381 to 3, with five House members, including Mr. Sikes, voting “present.”

        Mr. Sikes, a strong conservative, is chairman of the Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee. He sat impassively through most of the 201minute debate that preceded the ‐vote. Neither he nor any other Representative defended his conduct.

        Afterward, he told reporters that he had expected the vote “because of the atmosphere regarding public officials at this time.”

        He said that he had not addressed the House, even though he had been allotted 20 minutes to speak, because, “I know a stacked deck when I see one.””

        • Rugger_9 says:

          I remember reading a Molly Ivins column about some sort of hinkiness in the TX Lege (a target rich environment for centuries now) justified by the comment “there wasn’t a Bible in the room”.

        • Alan Charbonneau says:

          I remember this. 60 Minutes had an episode relating to Sikes and his misconduct.

          Common Cause complained that he had purchased land on which the federal govt had placed development restrictions. This, in turn, gave it a low market value. He then used his influence in Congress to enact legislation removing those restrictions, pushing the value much higher.

          While Common Cause made the complaint, it wasn’t until the 60 Minutes piece that real action started in Congress due to the outrage in generated (at least, that’s how I remember it, details from my memory are not 100% reliable.😁)

    • Savage Librarian says:

      In addition to courthouses, city offices, schools, libraries, and the Fair were closed here on Thursday & Friday due to Hurricane Nicole and Veterans Day.

      It’s not just rain that is a problem. It’s flooding, wind damage and tornadoes. A second floor window was completely sucked out of a home where I was house sitting during a hurricane a few years ago. Fortunately, I had relocated the menagerie and myself to another location and then another location before that happened.

      Once a tornado swept swiftly through my neighborhood, picked up my neighbor’s oak tree, and dropped it on her roof.

  2. Rugger_9 says:

    OT: The election announcement will affect AG Garland’s decision, because he needs to be certain that conviction will occur. The electoral bump if he’s not convicted would be ‘yuge’ and probably enough to get Individual-1 back into the White House. However, the evidence is piling up and FWIW Individual-1 won’t shut up. TFG thinks this is his firewall against accountability based on his assumptions about DoJ policy and OLC memos. AG Garland should prove him wrong by indicting Individual-1 anyway once Garland is certain he can get his conviction. It’s over a year before the first primary.

    Even Ivanka won’t play this time. Putin will interfere to create more chaos, and it remains to be seen whether the GQP will swing behind Individual-1 (they will, like they did in 2016 in a craven search for power). The RWNM will take their lead from Murdoch, currently not in support of the campaign.

    The other thing to consider as a sign of how desperate Individual-1 is to escape accountability, because formal declaration also limits what Individual-1 can do with his PAC money. I would expect he’ll test those limits as well.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Rugger, I’m most curious to see how Trump will scheme to hold on to the money he grifted off the “FBI raid” and other investigations. The biggest downside to announcing for 2024 now is the external clamps it puts on fundraising; I’m sure the RNC is ecstatic not to be paying his legal bills anymore.

      As I’ve said before, Murdoch(s) can be fickle. Trump has won his way back into favor previously. Everyone in the GOP has their finger in the wind.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        John Marshall (TPM) tweeted a clip of Joe Concha ripping on Faux News stars (Hegseth, Hannity, Huckabee) waxing rapturously about Individual-1’s speech even though it had been muted for something like 20 minutes.

        Huckabee’s praise was particularly egregious given that he was panning the announcement tease just a day before, but I guess for a bible-thumper like him bearing false witness can be forgiven at the next prayer session.

        As for the money, Individual-1 never leaves a penny on the sidewalk so he’ll try something. The other useful question with respect to Murdoch’s press empire is whether they’ll give Individual-1 more free air time like they did in 2016 and 2020. That’s how we’ll know that Murdoch caved again.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          WAG: Trying to think like Trump (don’t try this without a spotter!), I wonder if he will attempt to revive the “defense fund” that never existed. If he can keep all his 2022 grift contained under such a rubric, he could just start a new campaign grift separate from it. To say nothing of a potential Inaugural fund$

        • wasD4v1d says:

          I think CNN, which just took a right turn, gave TFG all the free air time he wanted. It isn’t just Fox we should be worried about.

            • Ginevra diBenci says:

              CNN is more dangerous now. Sinclair has reach, but it has been branded as rightwing. CNN retains its reputation as factual and authoritative, unfortunately–an imprimatur it is choosing to lend to ever more political voices in the name of “balance.”

        • puzzled scottish person says:

          ‘I guess for a bible-thumper like him bearing false witness can be forgiven at the next prayer session.’

          IIRC, there have been religious sects who argued that the way to salvation was through forgiveness and, therefore, in order to achieve maximum forgiveness and the greatest salvation, one had to sin as much as possible. Think Rasputin.

          Humans are wonderfully inventive whenever their desire is to get away with whatever it is they want to get away with.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        A commenter elsewhere noted that to a large extent Trump hate is “denial about what the Supreme Court’s abortion decision did to Republicans” writ large. Don’t be surprised to learn he’s their nominee.

  3. John Paul Jones says:

    The first few pages of Scheller’s submission spend most of their time on judicial discretion, which he then drops. Struck me as a bit odd; not the arguments around discretion vs mandatory minimums, which is an ongoing dispute, but rather picking up a tool only to very quickly lay it down again. Only thing I can figure is he’s sucking up to the judge in some fashion.

    As to the government’s memo, it reads like a treatment for a Scorcese movie (Coyote of Coral Gables?).

    • John Paul Jones says:

      It seems to be well-sourced, i.e., most likely true, so I think the main issue would be what it all means. Grifters making money off crimes, for sure, but what other entanglements are in the mix? This part stood out:

      “Morgulis is a Soviet emigre author who has lived in the U.S. for over 40 years, promoting far-right ideology through religion, a process he has dubbed “Spiritual Diplomacy.” A profile on Morgulis written by Casey Michel for ThinkProgress called Spiritual Diplomacy a “nebulous organization” and described Morgulis as “one of the leading voices spinning anti-democratic, and pro-Russian, forces in places like Belarus and Ukraine for American audiences.” The ThinkProgress profile followed a Washington Post report on Morgulis’s efforts to collaborate with alleged Russian intelligence operative Sergei Millian to rally Russian voters for Donald Trump in the 2016 election.”

      If Morgulis reached out to Milian, who had a public role in “Russian-American relations,” then I would think there’s probably not much to it. If Milian reached out to Morgulis, it might be more interesting, but it raises the question of what’s the utility, for Milian, of tying himself to people who are easy to research because they leave a wide and – as the story shows – incriminating social media trail.

      For what it’s worth, in the photo, Milian looks like he can’t wait to get out of the room, whereas Morgulis looks really proud to be there.

  4. Jharpjharp says:

    My favorite part is his crypto mining setup catching fire.

    I’d have liked to have seen his face when that happened.

    I’ve hung out here for awhile and previously posted under jharp.

  5. Whinger says:

    It has been almost 2 years since Garland took office and he still has not arrested even one prominent Republican politician. The closest he has come is Bannon, who basically went out of his way to force Garland to arrest him. Every day, we learn about more crimes they have committed. He should be on arrest 60 or so by now, but he hasn’t even made a single arrest. He clearly is not going to arrest Gaetz at this point.

    • Rayne says:

      Okay, your gag has had its run.

      You’ve successfully published 15 comments here and though you’re honest about your intent with the username, your whingeing is a form of concern trolling adding nothing to discussion while taking up pixels better occupied by those who are making a contribution to topic.

    • Matt___B says:

      Didn’t hear that prosecution of Gaetz was declined, ay? That was back in late September. You might want to scan headlines every now and again.

Comments are closed.