Gaetz pal accessed restricted database on 300 individuals

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Joel Greenberg, the friend of US MP Matt Gaetz, who pleaded guilty to identity theft and other charges earlier this year, accessed a restricted state database through his position as a local tax collector in Florida Information on hundreds of people, officials said.

Greenberg searched information on nearly 300 people using the Driver and Vehicle Information Database known as DAVID, according to the Seminole County Tax Collector’s Office in suburban Orlando, Florida.

“We are still working to identify the wanted people,” Alan Byrd, a spokesman for the tax office, told the Orlando Sentinel this week. “This was an activity by the former tax collector that was not tolerated by the DAVID system, and we are working to ensure that this type of activity does not happen again.”

The DAVID system is used by law enforcement officers and deputies to quickly access a person’s information, including social security number, date of birth, addresses, signatures, and medical and disability information.

Greenberg and his staff had access to the DAVID system because residents obtained vehicle driving licenses through the county tax authorities.

“I’m not surprised for a single moment,” said Seminole Commissioner Jay Zembower. “But I am very concerned about the people who, for whatever reason or whatever, have asked for their personal information.”

Officials at the Seminole County Tax Collector’s office say they only learned of Greenberg’s searches after receiving a request from the Florida Center for Government Accountability, a government monitoring group, about the former tax collector’s use of the DAVID system.

However, Byrd said some of Greenberg’s searches could have been legitimate, such as someone asking him if his driver’s license was still valid. Greenberg took office in early 2017 and resigned after his arrest in June 2020.

Greenberg pleaded guilty to six federal crimes last May, including child sex trafficking, identity theft, stalking, wire fraud and conspiracy to bribe a public official. He had originally faced 33 federal charges, but prosecutors dropped the other 27 charges brought against him. His plea agreement with prosecutors requires continued collaboration with an ongoing sex trafficking investigation.

Gaetz, a Republican who represents much of the Florida Panhandle, was not mentioned in Greenberg’s informed consent. But Greenberg’s collaboration could play a role in an ongoing investigation into Gaetz’s alleged sex relationship with a 17-year-old girl.

Gaetz, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, has denied all allegations of wrongdoing and has repeatedly stated that he will not step down from Congress. No charges were brought against Gaetz.

Greenberg has been linked to a number of other Florida politicians and their associates. So far, none of them have been specifically involved in the sex trafficking investigation.

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