A witness told federal prosecutors he was there when Matt Gaetz was told he was having sex with a minor, The Daily Beast reported.
Joe Ellicott was in the room when Joel Greenberg conveyed the information to Gaetz in a 2017 phone call.
Ellicott entered into a prayer agreement and is among several people collaborating in the investigation of sex crimes in Gaetz.
A witness has confirmed to federal prosecutors that the rep. Matt Gaetz was informed in 2017 that he was having sex with a minor, sources told The Daily Beast.
In a letter obtained by The Daily Beast in April last year, Gaetz’s associate Joel Greenberg said he discovered that a girl with whom he and the congressman had engaged in “sexual activities” was 17 at the time.
“Immediately, I called the congressman and warned him to stay away from this person and informed him that she was a minor,” Greenberg wrote, according to the newspaper. He added that Gaetz was “equally shocked and alarmed by this revelation” and that “there was no further contact with this person until after her 18th birthday.”
According to The Daily Beast, there was someone else in the room when Greenberg called Gaetz to convey this information: Joe Ellicott, Greenberg’s close friend and a former employee of the Seminole County Tax Office. Both men are now collaborating with federal investigators in the investigation of sex crimes in Gaetz.
Ellicott’s decision to cooperate is likely bad news for the hardline Congressman in Florida, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the sex trafficking investigation.
“After nearly a year of false rumors, not a shred of evidence has implicated Congressman Gaetz in misdemeanors,” his chief of staff told ABC News on Wednesday. “We remain focused on our work to represent the Floridians.”
Among other things, Ellicott and Greenberg reportedly exchanged text messages via the encrypted messaging app Signal, in which Ellicott revealed that a woman they were both connected to, “knew [the minor] was a minor all the time, had sex with her, and they both went to see other guys. “
Greenberg pleaded guilty to sex trafficking in May and agreed to cooperate fully with the government on other investigations. Ellicott agreed to cooperate this week and will plead guilty to two federal crimes, conspiracy to commit fraud and distribution of a controlled substance, in a separate case from the Gaetz investigation, ABC News reported.
No charges have been filed against Gaetz. But several recent developments suggest that the investigation is getting hotter. Among other things, Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend testified before a federal grand jury earlier this month. NBC News reported that the ex, whose name Insider is withholding to protect her privacy, has been talking to prosecutors for several months and was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony.
NBC also said prosecutors are investigating Gaetz for three separate crimes: if he traded sex with the 17-year-old; if he violated the Mann Act, which prohibits the transportation of “any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or promiscuity or for any other immoral purpose” across state borders; and if he hindered justice.
As for the obstruction probe, investigators are said to be investigating a three-way call after the investigation started between Gaetz, his ex and another woman who cooperated with federal authorities and who allegedly recorded the phone call. NBC reported that authorities suspect Gaetz of obstructing justice during that conversation; he has denied the charge.
An attorney for Ellicott declined to comment on the reporting on his client’s collaboration agreement. A spokesman for Gaetz and a lawyer representing Greenberg did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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