The Justice Department has informed lawyers for at least one witness that it will not bring charges against Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz after a years-long federal sex-trafficking investigation.
Senior officials reached out to lawyers for multiple witnesses on Wednesday, a source familiar with the matter told CNN, to inform them of the decision not to prosecute Gaetz.
The final decision was made by Department of Justice leadership after investigators recommended against charges last year.
Prosecutors had spent months investigating Gaetz’s personal conduct and, specifically, allegations that he was part of a scheme that led to the sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl. At the core of their investigation was testimony from a former Gaetz associate, Joel Greenberg who worked as a Florida tax collector.
A DOJ spokesperson declined to comment. CNN was first to report the news.
In 2021, Greenberg pleaded guilty to six charges, including sex trafficking of a minor, identity theft, stalking, wire fraud and conspiracy to bribe a public official, and agreed to cooperate with federal investigators as part of his plea agreement. He was sentenced in Dec. 2022 to 11 years in prison.
The investigation into Gaetz began in late 2020 under then-Attorney General Bill Barr, but ramped up significantly after Gaetz’s close friend, Joel Greenberg, pleaded guilty to six federal crimes, including a sex-trafficking charge, and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Greenberg’s cooperation led investigators to look at Gaetz, along with other allies of Greenberg, for any alleged sex trafficking or obstruction of justice. . . . . Two other people in Gaetz’s orbit also became key cooperators, including the ex-girlfriend who worked on Capitol Hill and has been linked to Gaetz as far back as the summer of 2017, and a Florida radio host who began cooperating after pleading guilty in a separate bribery scheme.CNN
Federal investigators were trying to determine whether Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old. According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, the woman was introduced to Gaetz by Joel Greenberg, a former Florida county tax collector and associate of Gaetz who pleaded guilty in May 2021 to six federal charges, including trafficking of a minor.
Investigators also zeroed in on a trip Gaetz allegedly took to the Bahamas in 2018 as part of an inquiry into whether he violated sex trafficking laws, multiple sources told CBS News in 2021. Federal investigators wanted to determine if any of the females who traveled with Gaetz were paid or illegally trafficked across state or international lines to have sex with him.