SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg’s attorney is lashing out at the Department of Justice in Washington, pushing it to pursue charges against people his client implicated in other crimes during his investigation.
“To emphasize to the public how important, how significant his cooperation was and also to set the table for him to get a sentence re-education under what’s known as rule 35 (b),” attorney Fritz Scheller said of his motivation.
Scheller told Channel 9 investigative reporter and anchor, Daralene Jones, that it’s about rooting out corruption and interference in democracy. But Channel 9 learned that his client could also benefit.
“When I see such corruption and interference with those sacred principles that our country was founded on, I have an obligation,” Scheller said.
That federal rule, 35 (b), requires Greenberg’s substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person. Jones asked Scheller whether Greenberg deserves to have any more time taken off his sentence.
“He destroyed lives, but ultimately destroyed his own life. Yes he should serve his time, but if he can make a difference that’s his only path toward redemption,” Scheller said.
Greenberg is now serving 11 years, which is just a fraction of the 27 years he was facing for federal charges linked to sex trafficking, identity theft, public corruption involving taxpayer money and contracts, stalking and fraudulent SBA loans.
Scheller said he’s concerned that Greenberg was an easy prosecution because his conduct was blatant, and he believes other people implicated are going to be a little bit tougher.
“Other than the SBA, there’s a common thread — you can’t look at them in isolation. You have oftentimes the same players involved in,” he said. “What’s really a threat to our democracy is the dark money that flows through elections and especially the ghost candidates that are being run.”
Scheller refused to give up names. But he said there as many as 10 people connected to politics in Orange, Seminole, Broward and Leon counties who he believes should be charged with crimes based on the testimony and physical evidence Greenberg provided, including lobbyists, fundraisers, former candidates and more than a few current politicians at the state level.
“There’s more than a few at the state level. There’s this idea that Greenberg got kickbacks that he pocketed, and that’s certainly true but some of those kickbacks didn’t go into his pocket, they went into campaigns,” Scheller said.
He said some of that was taxpayer money. He says while people should be concerned about the other crimes Greenberg committed, the bigger threat to the general public is the election crimes.
“You can always run third-party candidates, that’s not illegal, but how they’re funded, that’s the crime. Instead of having a straightforward election, they’re putting in candidates to tip the vote one way or another,” Scheller said.
Scheller told us that Greenberg is now cooperating with state investigations largely focused on contracts and kickbacks during Greenberg’s time as tax collector, which could lead to state charges for others.
But again, they want federal charges.
The earliest the government could file a motion for a sentence reduction under 35 (b) is one year from the date of Greenberg’s sentencing.
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