ORLANDO, Fla. — Joel Greenberg’s federal trial on child-sex trafficking, identity theft, fraud, and other charges was pushed to March on Wednesday after a request from the former tax collector of Seminole County.
- Greenberg’s attorneys concerned about coronavirus pandemic
- Suspect accused of fraud, ID theft and ‘sugar daddy’ relationship
- Case separate from recent audit questioning $5M in spending
Greenberg’s attorneys asked for more time to prepare the case because of its complexity and a rising threat from the coronavirus pandemic.
“The health hazards of the increase in the spread of [coronavirus] throughout the next several months pose a real and present risk to potential jurors, court personnel, witnesses, spectators, prosecuting and defense counsel, the Court, and jurors,” his attorneys wrote in an 8-page petition filed Wednesday. “This potential health hazard possesses a risk for all who will take part in the trial.”
In a separate filing, Greenberg waived his right for a speedy trial, allowing the court to push the case from the January docket to the March docket.
Federal prosecutors did not oppose.
Greenberg has pleaded not guilty to the child sex-trafficking charge and all of the other charges filed against him since the first batch became public June 23
Greenberg is accused of having a “sugar daddy” relationship with a girl between 14 and 18 from May 2017 to November 2017.
Federal prosecutors say Greenberg “recruited, enticed, obtained, maintained, and patronized” the teen, though records don’t offer specifics.
Greenberg also faces charges related to an alleged identity-theft scheme against a political foe.
While still in office, Greenberg left behind fingerprints and DNA on letters while posing as a student and falsely accusing the foe of sexually abusing a child, records allege.
Greenberg allegedly sent nine letters to the foe’s employer posing as a fictitious “very concerned student” with false claims about his enemy’s sexual relationship with a student, prosecutors said.
Spectrum News is not naming the political foe because the allegations are false.
Greenberg resigned in June after he was hit with the first batch of charges. He opted against a re-election bid.
Seminole County voters on November 3 elected Republican Jeff “J.R.” Kroll as Greenberg’s replacement.
Federal officials are also accusing Greenberg of using driver licenses that should have been shredded to create false IDs with his photo and someone else’s personal information.
He accused of tapping into a regulated database of Florida drivers and vehicles “to conduct inappropriate and unauthorized searches of various individuals using his account and another employee’s account.”
Greenberg experimented with fabricating concealed-weapons permits and stole “surrendered” driver licenses until his last day as Seminole’s tax collector, prosecutors allege.
The federal case does not involve allegations raised in a recent audit commissioned by Seminole County government of roughly $5 million in questionable spending during Greenberg’s tenure.
Elected in fall 2016, Greenberg took office in January 2017 and resigned June 24.
Greenberg and an unidentified “deputy” in his office spent $384,000 using agency credit cards during weekends and after hours for body armor, unspecified weapons, ammunition, as well as a drone with thermal imaging capabilities, MSL CPAs & Advisors of Orlando found.
The forensic audit questioned $1 million on “multiple lease agreements for five-year terms” for office space in Lake Mary when he had vacant space for administrative services in Sanford.
His office paid $1.4 million in legal fees while most tax collectors shell out just a fraction of that amount, the report said.
Greenberg spent $1.65 million for what auditors called “unnecessary positions.”
More than $1 million was “wasted” on consultants, auditors alleged.
They also said. Greenberg overpaid $262,000 for property in Winter Springs for a satellite office.