A New York Times profile on Joel Greenberg walks through how the former Seminole County Tax Collector who led Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) into a huge political scandal became the criminal he is today.
According to the report, Greenberg was a "wealthy" but "troubled" teen. In an old interview with a sports columnist for The Orlando Sentinel, mother Susan Greenberg explained that her teenage son had always had problems.
"Ms. Greenberg told The Sentinel that her son had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder as a toddler, took medication as a child and developed Tourette's syndrome. 'Joel is my shining star that needs more polishing, more buffing,' she said. 'He's the one who keeps me on my knees. It was a belligerent, defiant, rebellion-type of thing at home.'"
They then sent him to military school. "I guess it just didn't sink in," the young Joel said. When he was asked what he wanted to be one day, he claimed "a good person."
"Mr. Greenberg attended evening classes at Rollins College between 2005 and 2012 but never graduated, according to the school," the Times said. "His name appeared on a burglary incident report when he was 18 and on an involuntary psychiatric commitment report when he was 21, but both reports were sealed, according to records unearthed in 2016 by WFTV, a local news station. Mr. Greenberg declined to speak to the station about them."
A lawyer who encountered Greenberg during a labor dispute from former colleagues described the former Republican official as "like the Tiger King got elected tax collector."
In a previously unreported incident, when Greenberg was indicted in 2020, a woman crashed her car into a tree just yards from Greenberg's home. "The woman, according to two people familiar with their relationship, had previously had sex with Mr. Greenberg and received money from him on mobile payment apps; she had been leaving his house, the people said."
A domestic violence report took Greenberg's ongoing problems to the next level. His wife took their baby and left him for some time after he was arrested. So, he set all of her clothes on fire. Another domestic report resulted in the Sheriff coming to the house in November of 2020.
Greenberg then drove to Jupiter, Florida to find his wife, which violated the terms of his bail release. When he arrived, his mother-in-law called police.
"When sheriff's deputies went to rearrest him at his home in Lake Mary, Mr. Greenberg claimed to have explosives and threatened to harm himself, according to a deputy's report," the report said. "He surrendered after hours of negotiation."
This was the man that Gaetz called his friend.