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Unpacking The Case Against Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg

Joel M. Greenberg. File photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
Joel M. Greenberg. File photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Facing a mountain of charges ranging from sex trafficking to wire fraud, former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg is reportedly mulling a plea deal. In the meantime, questions are being asked about what kind of oversight there was of his office. 

Jeff Weiner joins Intersection to discuss the Orlando Sentinel’s reporting on a story that covers crime, politics and real estate, and connects an ever expanding network of Florida power brokers. Weiner is the Sentinel's justice and safety editor, and the host of a podcast examining the rise and fall of Joel Greenberg. 

Weiner says the case hit national attention when it was revealed the sex trafficking investigation into Greenberg was also focused on panhandle congressman Matt Gaetz, one of former president Donald Trump's most vocal supporters.

"So that adds an entirely new level of intrigue. For us, it's been a local story for a long time."

Weiner says right from the start of his tenure, there were "red flags, I would say all over the place."

"There were at least four separate occasions that people went to the FDLE, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, with complaints against him, but none of it ever quite landed. And in fact, I would say that Greenberg was probably the favorite to be reelected until his arrest last year. But the feds went after him and have since built a humungous case against him."

The office of tax collector is not typically a role that attracts a lot of attention. Weiner says Greenberg had told Sentinel reporters over the years that he was bored with the position, which revolves around issuing drivers license, renewing tags, collecting taxes and returning excess revenue to the county.

"It's not a sexy position," says Weiner.

"But I think it's a good reminder, honestly, for me, for us, for people who are watchdogs over these things, that there is no, you know, local elected office or local government agency that doesn't need to be watched."