Rep. Matt Gates is unlikely to be charged in a sex trafficking investigation

Professional prosecutors have recommended against indicting Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla) in a long-running sex trafficking investigation — telling Justice Department chiefs that a conviction is unlikely in part because of credibility questions with key witnesses, according to the people. familiar with the matter.

Senior department officials have not made a final decision about whether to indict Gates, but it is rare to turn down such advice, those people told the Washington Post, which spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations. They added that it is always possible for additional evidence to emerge that could change the plaintiffs’ understanding of the case.

However, it is unlikely that federal authorities will charge Gates with a crime in an investigation that began in late 2020 and focused on his alleged involvement with a 17-year-old girl. Several years ago. Gates, 40, he has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, saying he never paid for sex. He also said that the only time he had sex with a 17-year-old was when he was also 17.

Gates’ attorney, Isabel Kirchner, declined to comment. A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice declined to comment.

Gaetz requests pardon related to Justice Department’s sex trafficking investigation, say people familiar

Investigators set out to determine whether the congressman had paid for sex in violation of federal sex-trafficking laws and are examining the matter People familiar with the matter said his dealings with the 17-year-old. Earlier this year, a federal grand jury in Orlando heard testimony from Gates’ partners, including his ex-girlfriend.

The ex-girlfriend was among several women on a trip that Gates allegedly took to the Bahamas in 2018 was of particular interest to investigators. The 17-year-old involved in the investigation was on that flight as well, although at the time she was 18 or older, people familiar with the matter said. She was a key witness in the investigation, but people familiar with the case said she was one of two people whose testimony contains cases that seasoned prosecutors feel won’t be passed by a jury.

Rep. Matt Gates (R-Fla) first became involved in politics a decade ago. It didn’t take long for him to find stardom in the Republican Party. (Video: Derya Cornejo/The Washington Post; Photo: Gabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The other is a former friend of Gaetz, Joel Greenberg, a former Seminole County, Florida, tax collector who pleaded guilty last year to sex trafficking of a minor and a host of other crimes as part of a cooperation agreement with authorities.

Greenberg was first charged in 2020 with fabricating allegations and evidence to discredit a political opponent, but prosecutors have continued the investigation and added additional charges to his case. He eventually agreed to plead guilty to six criminal charges, including child sex trafficking, aggravated identity theft and wire fraud.

Explain sex trafficking investigation involving Matt Gates

In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the other 27 charges Greenberg faced and to recommend a term within federal sentencing guidelines, which are often well below the maximum statutory penalties. They also agreed to recommend further possible penalty breaks.

If Greenberg provides “significant help” in building other cases, prosecutors may ask the judge to deviate from the minimum sentence required, according to his plea agreement with Greenberg. Verdict is scheduled for later this year.

People familiar with the matter said it was the exploration of Greenberg’s behavior that investigators found evidence likely implicating Gates in sex trafficking. Those people said prosecutors were exploring whether Greenberg paid the women to have sex with Gates and whether both partners shared sex, including the 17-year-old at issue in the Greenberg case.

How did the Justice Department come to investigate Representative Matt Gates?

Gates, who represents a mostly conservative area in Florida, is known as a staunch defender of former President Donald Trump. The investigation was opened during the Trump administration and continued with the approval of then Attorney General William B. bar.

Greenberg has been providing investigators with information about Gaetz since last year, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Greenberg’s credibility would be a major challenge to any prosecution of Gates, in part because one of the crimes Greenberg admitted to committing was the fabrication of allegations against a schoolteacher he was running against as a tax collector. Greenberg sent letters to the school falsely claiming that the teacher had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student – an allegation similar to the Gates case.

Greenberg also pleaded guilty to a range of other crimes, including theft from the tax collection office and fraud on a government loan program that provides relief to businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“No one will believe anything Joel Greenberg says on their own,” David Beer, the attorney for the falsely accused teacher, said last year.

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The Gates case took an especially bizarre turn when authorities accused a Florida executive of trying to blackmail the father of a wealthy congressman as part of a scheme to secure a presidential pardon for the younger Gates amid an ongoing investigation into sex trafficking.

Eventually, the CEO of the business, Stephen M. Alford, pleaded guilty in 2021 to fraud charges. Authorities say he reached out to Gates’ father, Don Gates, saying he could “guarantee” amnesty for his son in the sex trafficking case, as part of a complex $25 million scheme that also includes an attempt to find a long-missing former FBI agent. Instead of paying him, Don Gates went to the FBI and secretly recorded the conversations.

Last week, The Washington Post reported that Gates told former White House aide John McEntee that he was seeking a preemptive pardon from Trump shortly before Trump left office.

According to people familiar with McEntee’s testimony before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Gates said Gates told him that while he had done nothing wrong, “they’re trying to make his life hell, and you know, if the president could give him a pardon.” That would be wonderful.”

Gates said he asked White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows a pardon, according to his testimony, according to those people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss his testimony.

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