Scandal-hit congressman Matt Gaetz snorted cocaine and had sex with an escort who was paid taxpayers money for a separate role that involved no work, it is claimed.
Matt Gaetz’s ‘wingman’ Joel Greenberg will appear in court on Monday to plead guilty to six counts of fraud and sex crimes, it was reported on Friday. He will accuse Gaetz of paying prostitute Megan Zalonka after a cocaine-fueled party at a Trump fundraiser.
Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector, will accuse Gaetz of paying at least 15 young women for sex, The Daily Beast reported.
Among them is Zalonka, an escort and amateur Instagram model, who was Gaetz’s date in October 2019 at the Trump Defender Gala in Orlando.
She is said to have been paid up to $15,000 of taxpayers money by Greenberg after he hired her for a social media manager job in Seminole County, Florida, that did not require Zalonka to do any work, it is claimed.
After the gala, an after-party was held in Gaetz’s hotel room, The Daily Beast reported.
Zalonka, 28, chopped up lines of cocaine, which she and Gaetz took together, it is claimed.
Two sources told the site that Zalonka and the Florida congressman had an ongoing financial relationship in exchange for sex.
Megan Zalonka (right) is pictured with Gaetz, who is said to have snorted cocaine and had sex with her
‘She was just one of the many pieces of arm candy he had,’ said one source familiar with the encounters between Gaetz and Zalonka.
The congressman wrote off the stay at the hotel as a campaign expense, with his donors picking up the tab.
Zalonka had, in 2017, used her relationship with Greenberg – who according to reports worked to procure women for Gaetz – to secure a $3,500-a-month social media job at Seminole County in Florida.
She was paid with taxpayer funds, and yet never worked in the office, and did not appear to do any work, it is alleged.
She earnt up to $17,500 from Greenberg, the site reported.
The ‘work’ began in December 2017, when she liaised with Greenberg while creating her own company, MZ Strategy Group LLC.
The next month, Greenberg awarded her a county contract, agreeing to pay her $3,500 a month for ‘management of digital content’ and ‘production of social media engagements.’
Zalonka’s firm received $3,500 installments in Seminole County taxpayer funds in January and April 2018, according to an analysis of Greenberg’s government spending obtained via a public records request.
Auditors flagged other $3,500 installments in February, March, and May 2018, in the form of suspicious cash advances directly to Greenberg.
Accountant Daniel J. O’Keefe, who led a forensic audit of Greenberg’s alleged self-dealing, said tax collector employees told him the woman behind the company was a mystery.
O’Keefe added that he found no proof Zalonka ever provided the services itemized in her contract with Greenberg.
‘I have no idea what they were doing. And employees wouldn’t know what they were doing. Totally a no-show job,’ O’Keefe said.
‘There’s no work product, no evidence work was done. It’s just unbelievable.’
Zalonka, right, was hired to ‘work’ for Greenberg, but there is no evidence of anything done
Roger Stone, Matt Gaetz and Joel Greenberg pictured in a selfie together in 2017. Matt Gaetz ‘s alleged wingman Joel Greenberg has reportedly agreed to plead guilty to six felony counts
Greenberg, who is married, would also transfer large sums of cash to Zalonka via Venmo – one of 40 women the 37-year-old regularly paid, it is alleged.
His Venmo records show that he paid her $500 for ‘Stuff,’ another $500 for ‘Orher stuff’ [sic], and $1,000 for ‘Pool.’
On a single day in November, he paid her $500 for ‘Food’ and another $500 for ‘Appetizers.’
Gaetz has denied ever paying women for sex.
A public relations firm he has hired, Logan Circle Group, said in a statement: ‘Congressman Gaetz won’t be commenting on whether he dated or didn’t date specific women.
‘The privacy of women living private lives should be protected.’
Harlan Hill, the president of the firm, did not address questions about cocaine, the party, or the fundraiser, when asked by The Daily Beast.
Mark J. O’Brien, a criminal defense lawyer, said the allegations about Zalonka were not ‘accurate’ but said she would not be clarifying.
Zalonka is currently communications director for the American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association – a group founded by Gaetz’s friends, and which he has openly supported.
On Friday morning federal prosecutors dropped 27 charges against Greenberg in exchange for his cooperation and testimony.
Greenberg had been facing 33 counts with a maximum of life behind bars but his plea deal reveals he has reached a deal to plead guilty to just six of those charges; sex trafficking a child, using a fake ID, identity theft, wire fraud, stalking and conspiring to commit a crime against the US.
The plea deal doesn’t specify what he’ll be sentenced to but it does confirm he will cooperate with the ongoing investigation into Gaetz, and testify at court if necessary.
The most severe charge he will plead to is paying a 17-year-old girl for sex, trafficking her across state lines and giving her drugs with other men – which is what might implicate Gaetz.
The sex trafficking charge has a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison.
The charges that have been dropped include four domestic violence charges, one sex trafficking charge, nine fraud charges, bribing a public official, and a range of lesser identity theft and fraud charges.
Prosecutors say depending on how much he assists them going forward, they’ll recommend various levels of leniency when it comes to Greenberg’s sentencing.
Greenberg, a disgraced tax collector, also has to forfeit $650,000.
He was arrested last year and immediately started telling the feds about Gaetz and how they ‘sex trafficked’ together to get himself a deal.
It wasn’t clear that it had worked for him until now.
Joel Greenberg’s plea deal reveals he will testify against anyone who is charged as part of the ongoing sex trafficking investigation – which spells trouble for his friend Matt Gaetz
Gaetz (pictured in DC today) is under investigation for allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old girl and trafficking her across state lines. Gaetz has denied the allegations and has not been charged with any crime
In March, it was revealed that Gaetz is under investigation for allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old girl and trafficking her across state lines. Investigators are also looking into allegations he paid women for ecstasy-fueled sex at Florida hotels after being introduced to them by Greenberg.
Gaetz has repeatedly denied having sex with a 17-year-old and said he has never paid for sex. He has not been charged with any crime.
For prosecutors to agree to reduce the charges from a staggering 33 to just six indicates that Greenberg has handed over information that is of significant value, legal experts told Business Insider on Thursday.
Sherine Ebadi, a former FBI agent who worked on the case against the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, said she expects Gaetz will be ‘concerned’ about Greenberg’s plans.
‘What Gaetz would be concerned about is if there’s a cooperation agreement in this matter that involves the defendant flipping on him,’ she said.
‘That gets scary for co-conspirators because they know someone who’s either aware of their crimes or someone they co-conspired with is now working with the government.’
Greenberg was first arrested on charges of identity theft and stalking a political opponent last June.
An indictment alleged he mailed fake letters to his opponent’s school claiming sexual misconduct.
The federal investigation into him spiraled and was charged with sex trafficking a girl between the ages of 14 and 17.
In March he was further charged with embezzling $400,000 from the Seminole County tax collector’s office and fraudulently obtaining COVID-19 relief loans, taking his total charges up to 33 felony counts.
It has since emerged that Greenberg has been cooperating with federal prosecutors since December.
In April, sources said he had been begging prosecutors to cut him a plea deal in exchange for turning over information on Gaetz.
He has reportedly told investigators that both he and Gaetz gave women cash and gifts in exchange for sex.
‘I’m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today,’ Greenberg’s attorney told reporters last month.
Gaetz has sought legal representation as the investigation into him appears to be ramping up.
This week, sources said DOJ investigators were trying to flip a former Capitol Hill intern who is the ex-girlfriend of Gaetz.
The ex-girlfriend, who is not being named publicly, was on a trip Gaetz took to the Bahamas in 2018 that allegedly involved drug use and arrangements with women, including paying them for sex.
It first emerged in March that Gaetz was under investigation by the DOJ for allegedly sex trafficking a minor.
Gaetz and Greenberg pictured together at the White House. To reduce charges from 33 to 6 indicates Greenberg has valuable information for prosecutors, say legal experts
Gaetz with Donald Trump. Greenberg is said to be cooperating with federal investigators for months amid the probe into the congressman
The minor is said to be the same 17-year-old girl at the center of the charges against Greenberg.
Investigators are said to be looking into payments made by Greenberg to young women and the 17-year-old girl through Venmo, and claims that Gaetz also paid women for sex via payment apps.
The probe into the congressman is said to have rise out of the DOJ investigation into Greenberg and the close ties between the two men.
Sources close to the DOJ probe told DailyMail.com last month that Gaetz was expected to be indicted as soon as a matter of weeks after the 17-year-old testified before a Florida grand jury saying she had sex with him before she reached the state’s age of consent, which is 18.
Greenberg allegedly confessed in a letter to Donald Trump ally Roger Stone that the pair paid for sex with the 17-year-old girl in a bid to get a pardon from the then-President, the Daily Beast reported.
‘On more than one occasion, [the 17-year-old] was involved in sexual activities with several of the other girls, the congressman from Florida’s 1st Congressional District and myself,’ Greenberg reportedly wrote in the letter.
One message said to have been sent by Greenberg to Stone allegedly said he was pressured to ‘flip’ and cooperate with prosecutors.
Gaetz’s wider actions in congress have also come under close scrutiny in recent weeks, with claims he showed off nude photos of women he said he had slept with to other lawmakers on the House floor and that he played a sleazy Harry Potter themed sex game scoring points for sleeping with married colleagues, virgins and in sorority houses.
It has also been claimed that he regularly attended gated community house parties with other Republican lawmakers where cellphones were handed over at the door and the ‘frat party boy’ Florida representative would discuss politics while popping pills.
Meanwhile, as well as the federal investigation, the House Ethics Committee has also launched an inquiry into a string of allegations including ‘sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift, in violation of House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct.’
Gaetz denies all allegations and has insisted he will not resign.
In a bizarre twist in the saga, the lawmaker has instead claimed he is the victim of an elaborate extortion plot by a former Justice Department official seeking to free an American hostage from Iran.
‘The first indictment of Joel Greenberg alleges that he falsely accused another man of sex with a minor for his own gain. That man was apparently innocent. So is Congressman Gaetz,’ said Harlan Hill, a spokesman for the lawmaker.
Gaetz, 38, and his fiancée Ginger Luckey, 26, in a photo shared on Twitter by Gaetz on December 10 under a photograph of former US President Ronald Reagan