Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Florida man: "How quickly can I blow it all on pussy?"

The Third Man. If you know what I mean.

Headline from the former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, not his former friend Matt Gaetz, who probably might not express himself so coarsely

I have this idea Gaetz will get away with it—been looking at the plea agreement for Joel Greenberg and seeing plenty of opportunities for Gaetz to call himself Greenberg's victim instead of a partner in crime, and don't doubt he's dishonest and disloyal enough to take full advantage of them.

His name isn't mentioned anywhere in the document, but it's clear he's involved in just two of the six crimes to which Greenberg has pleaded guilty (out of I think 33 total charges in the original indictments: the sex trafficking involving a minor, in which he bonked some of the young women Greenberg was in the habit of sourcing through the Sugar Babies app in return for money he paid Greenberg with Venmo and Greenberg in turn paid them, sometimes asking them to take MDMA with him (and paying them extra when they did); and the use of fake IDs Greenberg manufactured in his tax collector's office, which in Gaetz's case seems to have been sort of legitimate, in that he wanted ID for his real self rather than the stolen identities Greenberg created out of abandoned driver's licenses for his own use and that of the girls:

The Daily Beast obtained images of additional text messages that purport to show Greenberg helping Gaetz get duplicate IDs—outside of proper channels on a Sunday afternoon. On Sept. 2, 2018, Greenberg directly asked an employee to quickly create a new card that complies with the heightened security standards of “REAL ID,” a process that would normally require providing additional documentation, according to the images.

“Amy- is there anyway to assist one of our Congressmen in getting an emergency replacement ID or DL by Tuesday 2pm? His was lost yesterday and he’s got a flight Tuesday. Doesn’t have any other form of ID currently on him. Sorry to bother you on Sunday,” Greenberg wrote.

Greenberg then confirmed that the favor was for “Matthew Louis Gaetz II,” born on May 7, 1982.

That's similar to the kind of thing the Seminole County tax collector's ID-making facilities were meant to be used for, though probably not on a Sunday, improperly done, but not to facilitate the commission of a more significant crime.

Gaetz has been previewing his defense on the sex trafficking charge since March, essentially that he had no idea what he was doing with the Sugar Babies could be interpreted as "commercial sex acts"—such an unpleasant phrase! He thinks of it as the completely normal activity of "dating" and explains the money transfers as evidence  that he's an exceptionally thoughtful and generous boyfriend:

Mr. Gaetz said in an interview that his lawyers had been in touch with the Justice Department and that they were told he was the subject, not the target, of an investigation. “I only know that it has to do with women,” Mr. Gaetz said. “I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”

In other words, his defense is that he's a clueless rich boy (his father, Don Gaetz, a Republican Florida politician and health care executive, sold his company, Vitas Hospice Services, for close to $500 million in 2004—in 2013 the company settled a case accusing it of tens of millions of dollars worth of Medicaid fraud beginning in 2002, by the way, which Don Gaetz claims he had nothing to do with) living in a world that conspires to make him believe he's not paying for sex but loving and loved and leading his best romantic life, when he is in point of fact paying for sex.

Which you may recognize as Trumpworld, where marriage, having somebody around the house you call "darling", is defined by the prenup with which it begins and the settlement including NDA with which it ends, and after it ends you can get a long-term girlfriend on a salary paid by one of your dad's fishier companies. And it's probably true enough for those boys that Gaetz might well convince a jury he didn't know—and of course that he had no idea that girl was underage, though his former friend Joel, whose dishonesty and disloyalty hurt him so badly, apparently did. He certainly wouldn't want to know that he was merely a commonplace john who couldn't get laid any other way, if he could protect himself from knowing it.

Unlike the much scrappier figure of Joel Greenberg, who may be a millionaire (off his father's chain of 90 dental practices), but has a very clear-eyed concept of how prostitution works.

So while all the TV pundits are telling you Gaetz is going to jail, I'm officially doubting it. Which does not mean the pundits are wrong when they tell you they know something interesting is coming, because prosecutors wouldn't have made this deal unless they were confident of getting something big from Greenberg's cooperation; I'm just thinking they're looking at the wrong case.

Not my favorite one in the list, which is when Greenberg got the county to buy him $70,000 worth of computers so he could spend his working hours mining cryptocurrency on the taxpayer's dime, eventually causing $100,000 of damage to one of the tax collector offices

Or the basically straight out embezzling money from the county to buy cryptocurrency for himself—if I'm not mistaken he paid it back at the end of a given year but kept the profits. Or the profiteering on the Covid relief plan of 2020 , where with the help of a bribed Small Business Association Employee he wangled a total of upwards of $432,000 in Economic Injury Disaster Loan funds for disaster injury to businesses he owned that didn't actually ever do any business or, technically, exist.

No, the Greenberg case that really interests me is actually about politics, and his own campaigns for the tax collector job:

In 2016, then 31, Greenberg used his own money to run a successful Republican primary challenge that accused the 28-year incumbent, Ray Valdes, then 78, of being out of touch. 

Greenberg got support in both his campaigns from a Facebook page, Central Florida Post, founded by Jacob Engels, who has been named as an associate of Roger Stone. The page has promoted among others the Proud Boys, a far-right group also associated with Stone. 

Engels, according to the Sentinel, engaged in the same political “dirty tricks” that has been Stone’s specialty since the Nixon presidency: In 2016 he filed a report accusing Valdes of assault, but the prosecutor said Engels was only seeking a confrontation. 

Last year, the page posted an attack on Greenberg’s primary opponent titled “Creepy Brian Beute.” (Facebook has taken down the page.)

The stalking charge against Greenberg alleges that he used a pseudonym to send letters to the middle school where Beute is a teacher, falsely claiming that Beute had a sexual relationship with a student. Greenberg allegedly set up a fake Facebook page making the same charge and set up a fake Twitter account in Beute’s name promoting white supremacy. (via the great Ron Kampeas, Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

I'm taking that Stone reference seriously, and allowing myself to hope Stone (who, you'll recall, Greenberg begged to get him a Trump pardon as The Former Guy's administration ground to a halt,) is the big fish the Greenberg prosecutors are aiming at. Connection? Check (we have the picture). Possibility? Check (Stone's fingerprints are all over that ratfucking episode, it's made of the stuff that's been his specialty for 50 yeara). Revenge motive? Check (Stone didn't get him the pardon, though Gaetz didn't even try). Maybe Gaetz is getting something too, but that's not the big one.

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