- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
A confession letter written by Joel Greenberg in the final months of the Trump presidency claims that he and close associate Rep. Matt Gaetz paid for sex with multiple women—as well as a girl who was 17 at the time.
“On more than one occasion, this individual was involved in sexual activities with several of the other girls, the congressman from Florida’s 1st Congressional District and myself,” Greenberg wrote in reference to the 17-year-old.
“From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18. I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman.”
The letter, which The Daily Beast recently obtained, was written after Greenberg—who was under federal indictment—asked Roger Stone to help him secure a pardon from then-President Donald Trump.
A series of private messages starting in late 2020—also recently obtained by The Daily Beast—shows a number of exchanges between Greenberg and Stone conducted over the encrypted-messaging app Signal, with communications set to disappear. However, Greenberg appears to have taken screenshots of a number of their conversations.
“If I get you $250k in Bitcoin would that help or is this not a financial matter,” Greenberg wrote to Stone, one message shows.
“I understand all of this and have taken it into consideration,” Stone replied. “I will know more in the next 24 hours I cannot push too hard because of the nonsense surrounding pardons.”
“I hope you are prepared to wire me $250,000 because I am feeling confident,” Stone wrote to Greenberg on Jan. 13.
In a text message to The Daily Beast, Stone said that Greenberg had tried to hire him to assist with a pardon, but he denied asking for or receiving payment or interceding on his behalf. He did, however, confirm he had Greenberg prepare “a document explaining his prosecution.”
In the private text messages to Stone, Greenberg described his activities with Gaetz, repeatedly referring to the Republican congressman by his initials, “MG,” or as “Matt.”
“My lawyers that I fired, know the whole story about MG’s involvement,” Greenberg wrote to Stone on Dec. 21. “They know he paid me to pay the girls and that he and I both had sex with the girl who was underage.”
As part of the effort to obtain a pardon, Greenberg wrote multiple drafts of his confession letter. The Daily Beast obtained two typed versions and an earlier handwritten one. Certified forensic document examiner and handwriting expert Wendy Carlson compared the letter to writing samples obtained through two public-records requests. She said it was her professional expert opinion that the person who authored a 2019 financial disclosure for Joel Greenberg, as well as Greenberg’s 2020 Board of Elections form, was the same as the author of the letter.
“The person who authored the forms has been identified as the person who authored the letter,” Carlson said.
In those letters, Greenberg detailed his relationship with Gaetz. He confessed to paying young women for sex. And he claimed that he, Gaetz, and others had sex with a minor they believed to be 19 at the time. Greenberg said he learned she was underage on Sept. 4, 2017, from “an anonymous tip” and quickly contacted Gaetz.
“Immediately I called the congressman and warned him to stay clear of this person and informed him she was underage,” Greenberg wrote. “He was equally shocked and disturbed by this revelation.”
Greenberg continued in the handwritten draft that he “confronted” the then-17-year-old and explained to her “how serious of a situation this was, how many people she put in danger.”
“She apologized and recognized that by lying about her age, she endangered many people,” he continued. “There was no further contact with this individual until after her 18th birthday.”
But after she reached the age of legal consent in Florida, Greenberg re-established contact. As The Daily Beast previously reported, about five months after her 18th birthday, Gaetz sent Greenberg $900 in two Venmo transactions—one titled “Test” and the other titled “hit up ___.” The blank contained a nickname for this girl, and Greenberg paid her and two other women a total of $900 about six hours later.
In his confession letter, Greenberg also admitted he facilitated Gaetz’s interactions with college students—and paid them on his behalf.
“All of the girls were in college or post college and it was not uncommon for either myself or the Congressman to help anyone [sic] of these girls financially, whether it was a car payment, a flight home to see their family or something as simple as helping pay a speeding ticket,” Greenberg wrote.
A partial record of Greenberg’s Venmo and Cash App transactions suggests that payments were usually for a lot more than “gas money.” The Daily Beast identified more than 150 Venmo payments from Greenberg to women, as well as more than 70 additional payments on the Cash App, that were generally between $300 and $500—though some exceeded $1,000. The Daily Beast also talked to 12 of the more than 40 different women who received money, and they all said they understood Greenberg was paying them at least in part for sex.
Greenberg, a disgraced local politician in Florida, currently faces a sweeping 33-count indictment that ranges from stalking to sex trafficking. In March, The New York Times revealed that the initial investigation into the Seminole County tax official expanded as agents looked into his role in arranging paid sexual encounters for his friend Matt Gaetz.
Federal prosecutors have not criminally charged Gaetz—or even publicly confirmed the expansion of their probe. While Gaetz acknowledges the existence of the investigation, he denies having sex with an underage teen. But at some point, Greenberg began to cooperate with investigators, a development his lawyer has suggested poses a serious problem for Gaetz.
That defense lawyer, Fritz Scheller, declined to comment for this story, citing attorney-client privilege.
Gaetz’s office did not respond. However, Logan Circle Group, an outside public-relations firm Gaetz has hired, sent the following statement:
“Congressman Gaetz has never paid for sex nor has he had sex with a 17 year old as an adult. We are now one month after your outlet and others first reported such lies, and no one has gone on record to directly accuse him of either. Politico, however, has reported Mr. Greenberg threatening to make false accusations against others, which seems noteworthy for your story and in fact sounds like the entirety of your story. Congressman Gaetz has had no role in advocating for or against a pardon for Greenberg and doubts such a pardon was ever even considered.”
The Politico article referred to in the statement does not say Greenberg was threatening to make false accusations against others, but does say that an associate claimed Greenberg had warned friends that “everyone is going to need a lawyer.”
Neither the U.S. Secret Service nor federal prosecutors with the Middle District of Florida would provide comment for this article either, citing a policy of not confirming or denying the existence of an ongoing investigation.
In the final months of the Trump presidency, Greenberg and Stone exchanged several texts about a pardon over the encrypted-messaging app Signal. While images show that the pair frequently set messages to automatically delete, Greenberg regularly took screenshots of their communications.
Stone, who received a presidential commutation last July but at the time had not yet been pardoned, communicated with Greenberg for months about the latter’s desire for a pardon.
The messages show that in November, the pair discussed putting together a “document,” which later took the form of a confession letter and background missive about all the ways in which Greenberg had been loyal to Trump. In their early conversations, Greenberg told Stone that the letter was “about 8-10 pages” and asked if it should be shortened.
“No,” Stone replied, “use as much space as you need to tell the story fully but be certain to include your leader ship [sic] for Trump prominently.”
Greenberg almost immediately responded that he had “killed” himself for Trump. “And I’ve killed my self [sic] for Matt,” he said.
The letter went through multiple drafts and detailed Greenberg’s encounters with Gaetz, but it also focused on Greenberg’s early support of Trump’s run in 2016, such as posting a “Super Trump” highway billboard on Interstate 4. (A version of the letter actually includes the image Greenberg used for the billboard.)
On Nov. 20, 2020, Stone told Greenberg he had received “the document” and would show it to the team that “got me my commutation.”
“I will review it with them and give you a budget. This is very doable and the time is now,” Stone wrote.
An update from Stone came just after midnight on Dec. 8: “Your thing is being looked at and I will have an answer by Saturday as to whether you have a viable shot for justice and how to go about it.”
“Thank you so much Roger,” Greenberg replied. “I am very thankful for you. I pray that the Lord will help. I remain optimistic and will wait to hear back from you.”
Stone quickly sought to dampen expectations surrounding “the whole pardon circus.”
“This is treacherous territory with a lot of different players such as Jared and Giuliani playing a hand,” Stone wrote, presumably referring to Trump adviser Jared Kushner and the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. “I have two things I’m trying to get done. Sit tight.”
On Dec. 21, Greenberg told Stone that government investigators were pressing him to cooperate. “The FBI, DOJ, Secret Service and a bunch of people from DC have repeatedly made attempts to meet with my [sic] lately. I have declined. But they are definitely ramping up pressure.”
“They want me to flip,” he continued. “They have made offers which I’ve declined. I even fired my lawyers this week because they tried to convince me to cooperate and that a pardon was impossible.”
Greenberg then revealed to Stone that his former lawyers were aware of the “whole story” regarding Matt Gaetz’s role.
“My lawyers that I fired, know the whole story about MG’s involvement. They know he paid me to pay the girls and that he and I both had sex with the girl who was underage. So naturally they think that is my golden ticket,” Greenberg wrote.
“And while I have not had any communication with MG, he absolutely has to know that the sex charge they hit me with would be what they would hit him with,” Greenberg continued.
A distressed Greenberg told Stone that he felt “abandoned" by his allies, but emphasized that Gaetz—who was “like a son” to the president of the United States—could save him: “One conversation with POTUS and he can get this done and it all goes away.”
Greenberg said that while he had discussed pardons with Gaetz’s lawyer, he had not heard a reply and would “have to do what’s best for me and my family” after Trump left office.
“You think MG is going to come visit me in prison?” he said, then proposed the $250,000 bitcoin deposit.
Stone replied that he had considered those points, but “cannot push too hard because of the nonsense surrounding pardons.”
As Trump neared his final days in office, he signaled an intent to issue a wave of pardons, and reports at the time suggested legal reprieve could be had for the right price. Stone communicated with Greenberg about his efforts to navigate the heavy traffic of pardon-seekers.
On Dec. 23, Trump pardoned Stone for the crimes from his 2019 conviction. The next day, on Christmas Eve, Stone acknowledged to Greenberg that he was having difficulty with the Gaetz dimension.
“It is hard for me to understand why MG would do nothing[.] Yes he is potentially damaged if the matter goes forward,” Stone wrote. The three men—Greenberg, Stone, and Gaetz—all shared a friendship dating back several years, and Stone apparently couldn’t figure out why Gaetz wouldn’t help Greenberg get a pardon.
But on the morning of Jan. 13, Greenberg received this text from Stone: “Today is the day. We will know by the end of the day. I think you sent me some document but it disappeared. I hope you are prepared to wire me $250,000 because I am feeling confident.”
There was only a week left in the Trump presidency. It’s unclear if money was ever exchanged, but Greenberg offered to pay extra if Stone could, in fact, get him a pardon.“If you can get this done today I’ll add another 50k,” Greenberg texted Stone.
In a subsequent message, Stone wrote that White House lawyer Pat Cipollone had taken Greenberg’s name out of the list of hundreds of people who might be pardoned. Cipollone didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment Thursday, but according to three people familiar with the matter, Greenberg’s name repeatedly made it to the Trump White House for a presidential pardon. The Daily Beast was shown an image of one such list, and Greenberg’s name and a favorable mini-profile were indeed included.
Administration officials swiftly shot down Greenberg’s application, however, and several senior White House officials at the time said they were not even aware that Stone was involved in a behind-the-scenes maneuvering.
But as Stone explained it in a Jan. 30 text—a full 10 days after Trump left office—Gaetz was partly to blame.
“What I don’t understand is why MJ would not help me at all and actually told me not to help you which I tried to do anyway. In the end it would not have mattered. Cipollone killed everything we wanted to get done and that includes stuff MG wanted,” Stone wrote, immediately clarifying that “MJ” was a typo and that he meant “MG.”
“Ok. He actually said not to help me? Wow,” Greenberg replied.
“If you repeat it you’re really going to hurt me,” Stone warned.
“I won’t Roger. I don’t and haven’t talked to him. I won’t,” Greenberg said.
Stone acknowledged Thursday night that there may be “copies of correspondence between me and Mr. Greenberg,” but he questioned whether they were complete, unedited, or accurate.
“I made no formal or informal effort in regard to a pardon for Mr. Greenberg,” Stone said. “I recall requesting a document explaining his prosecution The [sic] details of which I was unfamiliar with.”
“I never requested or received a penny from Mr. Greenberg,” he added. “I recall him offering to retain me and I declined. To be clear I did advocate pardons for a number of people who I had [sic] been unfairly treated by the justice system and was compensated by no one for doing so.”
“Urge you to be very careful,” Stone said at the end of his text. “I will take any appropriate legal action in the event that you publish anything that is false or defamatory. Sounds to me like you have been presented some kind of cut and paste record.”
—With additional reporting by Asawin Suebsaeng and Matt Fuller