DOJ won’t charge Gaetz in sex trafficking probe, lawmaker’s office says

DOJ won’t charge Gaetz in sex trafficking probe, lawmaker’s office says

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Justice Department is closing its long-running sex trafficking investigation into GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz and will not charge the firebrand congressman, according to a lawyer representing a witness in the case and the lawmaker’s office.

Tim Jansen, a Tallahassee-based lawyer representing a witness, said that DOJ officials called him shortly after noon and confirmed that prosecutors will not charge Gaetz. Jansen represented an ex-girlfriend of the congressman.

“They had promised to let me know,” said Jansen, a well-known defense attorney. “They are not going to going to go against Matt Gaetz. The case is closed.”

Gaetz’ congressional office on Wednesday also said that the DOJ confirmed to his attorneys that authorities have completed their probe and won’t charge Gaetz with any crime.

The news was first reported by CNN. POLITICO reported in September that the DOJ’s investigation was winding down and that prosecutors weren’t likely to file charges against Gaetz.

Officials at the DOJ declined to comment.

Federal prosecutors and the FBI began investigating Gaetz in late 2020 during the Trump administration over potential sex trafficking crimes related to allegations he’d paid women for sex and traveled overseas on at least one occasion to parties attended by teenagers who were not yet 18.

Federal authorities also looked into whether Gaetz had obstructed justice due to a call Gaetz and the lawmaker’s girlfriend had with a witness. Exact details of that phone call are unknown.

Gaetz repeatedly denied having sex with anyone who was underage. He did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Gaetz has been a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump and frequented appeared on conservative media to defend the president. His national profile grew even more this year when he was part of a group of conservative Republicans who refused to back GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy as speaker. In one notable moment, another Republican confronted Gaetz on the House floor and had to be held back by fellow members.

The investigation into Gaetz came in the aftermath of federal authorities charging Joel Greenberg, a Florida county tax collector who once was close friends with Gaetz. Greenberg was sentenced in December to 11 years in prison.

He had been charged initially with more than two dozen criminal counts, but in May 2021 he pled guilty to six — including sex trafficking and fraud — in exchange for his cooperation in multiple cases, including the probe in into Gaetz.

Greenberg’s sentencing was delayed multiple times as he cooperated with authorities.

Go to Source
Author: By Gary Fineout and Josh Gerstein