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Rep. Matt Gaetz's Woes Deepen As New Report Details Associate's Shady Venmo Payments

Josephine Harvey
·Reporter, HuffPost
·2-min read

As details suggesting Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-Fla.) involvement in an alleged sex scandal continue to escalate, new reporting from The Daily Beast on Wednesday suggested his associate Joel Greenberg made scores of suspicious Venmo payments to dozens of young women, including a minor.

Greenberg, a former Seminole County tax collector in Florida and the suspected leader of a cash-for-sex network, reportedly made more than 150 payments to women on the cash transfer app, including in June 2017, when he sent $300 for “Food” to a girl who was 17 at the time.

The transactions were for hundreds and sometimes more than a thousand dollars, and were often sent with suggestive text or emojis in the subject fields.

This included a payment from Gaetz to Greenberg on Nov. 1, 2018, with the “love hotel” emoji as the memo. According to The Daily Beast, Greenberg booked one night at a luxury hotel in Winter Park, Florida, on that date.

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The Daily Beast previously reported that Gaetz paid Greenberg $900 in two late-night Venmo transfers in May 2018. The subject field for one of the transactions was a nickname for the same woman Greenberg sent money to in June 2017.

That woman, who had turned 18 by that time, was one of three women whom Greenberg subsequently sent a total of $900 the next morning under the subjects “Tuition,” “School” and “School.”

Gaetz was among a circle of men who went through Greenberg to connect with a network of young women, according to The Daily Beast. Corroborating that account is a new CNN report that detailed how Gaetz and other high-powered men would attend house parties in suburban Orlando, where they would take drugs including ecstasy and cocaine and have sex with women who were sometimes paid later by Greenberg.

Greenberg has been indicted on dozens of federal charges, including sex trafficking, identity theft, bribery of a public official and stalking. He has reportedly been cooperating with authorities since last year, including allegedly providing information about Gaetz, who is accused of having a sexual relationship with a woman that began when she was 17 and paying for her to travel across state lines in violation of sex trafficking statutes.

Greenberg, who is expected to strike a plea bargain, told investigators that he and the congressman had sexual encounters with women in exchange for cash and gifts, two people briefed on the matter told The New York Times.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.