Joel Greenberg, the "wingman" of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) who pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a minor among other charges, originally found himself in legal jeopardy after attacking a political rival.
"Brian Beute had been a teacher for almost two and half decades when he got the idea in his head to run for local office. A week after Beute filed his paperwork to run for tax collector of Seminole County, Florida, the school where he'd worked for 17 years received an anonymous letter falsely accusing him of an improper relationship with a student. Soon, sock-puppet accounts appeared online parroting the same lie. Beute went on administrative leave, and two weeks later, an investigation by the Seminole County Sheriff's Department cleared his name," Rolling Stone reports.
"Beute went back to work, and kept campaigning. It would take almost eight months before local police, and later federal investigators, would unravel the scheme and ultimately arrest the man responsible for spreading those lies: Joel Greenberg, the Seminole County tax collector Beute sought to unseat. In addition to attempting to smear Beute as a pervert and a racist, Greenberg was later accused of a host of other crimes — 33 in total — including using drivers licenses confiscated by his office, embezzling and diverting nearly half a million taxpayer dollars to purchase cryptocurrency and sports memorabilia, and defrauding a Covid relief program," the magazine reported.
Tessa Stuart of Rolling Stone interviewed Beute about the latest developments in the case.
"Once it was announced there was going to be a plea deal, that told me a lot. Psychologically, that was the beginning of feeling a little more at ease, and feeling that there was going to be some kind of justice. But I'll say this: I don't think this story is done," Beute said.
"I don't mean just nationally. I just have a hard time believing that you can get away with this kind of injustice, this many crimes — even though 27 [charges against Greenberg] were thrown out. I don't think you reach that point without either assistance, or people looking the other way, or favors. That doesn't just happen by accident," he explained. "I want to see all criminals uprooted locally, because Seminole County citizens don't have restitution and they don't have resolve. And therefore, I don't have restitution or resolve. We need a conclusion."
Beute wants a commission to investigate how many people may be involved in the scandals.
"I expect a full-scale investigation at the state level to identify individuals either complicit or derelict of duty — or maybe the process itself allowed this to happen. I have a hard time believing it, but maybe it did. I want to see a commission, a committee, something. We need to see a resolution so that we can move forward and trust our state government is operating with people of morals, and people who weren't complicit in what we now know to be a lot of crimes," Beute said. "I would like to see a full scale investigation of why this crime was ever committed, and more importantly, why did it continue?"
Read the full interview.