A Florida man has pleaded guilty to charges linked to the sex trafficking investigation swirling around Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) that threatens to bring down the extremist Republican.
Joseph Ellicott admitted to two charges outlined in court documents dated Monday: conspiracy to commit wire fraud and distribution of a controlled substance ― the prescription ADHD drug Adderall. Both charges carry a potential maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars and substantial financial penalties.
Ellicott also agreed to cooperate with federal investigators and to testify against others in the case if needed.
Gaetz’s close friend and so-called wingman, Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector, pleaded guilty to a bevy of crimes in May 2021, including procuring an underage girl for sex with other men. One of them reportedly was Gaetz.
Gaetz has not been charged with any crime and denies wrongdoing.
Ellicott and Greenberg are believed to be close friends. Last year, the Daily Beast obtained a series of text messages between the two men suggesting Ellicott was worried that other unnamed friends might be in legal trouble for paying to have sex with a 17-year-old girl.
The outlet reported earlier that Gaetz had paid more than 15 young female escorts for sex at various points, including at a cocaine-fueled hotel room party reportedly paid for by Gaetz’s campaign donors.
Greenberg was slapped with a shocking number of accusations by prosecutors, who alleged the former elected tax official used his office to enrich himself. He also is cooperating with authorities.
Ellicott appears to have gotten mixed up in Greenberg’s self-dealing. Defense attorney Joe Swick told The Daily Beast that a plea hearing has been set for February in Ellicott’s case.
While Ellicott’s plea agreement filed in court does not name Greenberg, the documents do describe someone who fits his description: an elected Seminole County official and friend of Ellicott’s who allegedly used his public position “to enrich himself.”
Gaetz remains under federal investigation. Earlier this month, an unnamed ex-girlfriend of the lawmaker testified before a grand jury in Florida ― a possible indicator that the Department of Justice is leaning toward indicting Gaetz.