Another figure in Matt Gaetz investigation pleads guilty, agrees to cooperate with the feds

·2 min read
Matt Gaetz
Matt Gaetz Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A Florida collectibles dealer and former shock jock, "Big Joe" Ellicott, agreed to plead guilty earlier this week to conspiracy to commit fraud and drug charges, and committed to "cooperate fully with the United States in the investigation and prosecution of other people" and to testify against them, Politico reported Wednesday. The "other people" part is of interest because Ellicott was named on a December 2020 subpoena, along with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), regarding an investigation "involving commercial sex acts with adult and minor women, as well as obstruction of justice."

Gaetz and Ellicott's lawyer say the two men were only loosely acquainted. But Ellicott was good friends with former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, Gaetz's "wingman" and central to the investigation into whether Gaetz paid for sex with a 17-year-old and then obstructed justice. Gaetz has repeatedly denied that allegation.

Greenberg has pleaded guilty to a number of federal offenses, including sex trafficking a teenager, and is cooperating with prosecutors. Ellicott's "testimony would be very similar to what Greenberg could provide," his lawyer Joseph Zwick told Politico. "He's probably more credible than Greenberg."

Ellicott's case is being handed by federal prosecutors in Orlando, while Gaetz's case is in the hands of seasoned prosecutors from the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. Ellicott probably has information the Gaetz investigators would be interested in, The Daily Beast reports.

Ellicott was working in the tax collector's office when Greenberg called Gaetz to inform him the woman they had both had sex with was 17, The Daily Beast reports. Greenberg disclosed this Sept. 4, 2017, conversation in a confessional letter he wrote as part of an unsuccessful scheme to secure a presidential pardon, and federal prosecutors have both that letter and the exact time Greenberg illegally looked up the girl's age in his office's database.

Ellicott was there when Greenberg made the call, two people briefed on the matter tell The Daily Beast, and if he can corroborate that Greenberg warned Gaetz about the age of their sex partner, that would "contradict Gaetz's repeated assertions that he never had sex with an underage girl as an adult." Gaetz has not been charged with a crime.

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