In September, The Washington Post reported that prosecutors had recommended not indicting Gaetz and told Justice Department superiors that a conviction was unlikely, in part because of credibility issues with the two central witnesses, according to people familiar with the case.
A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment Wednesday afternoon.
Matt Gaetz’s sex trafficking investigation, explained
The investigation into Gaetz began in late 2020 and focused on his alleged involvement several years earlier with a girl who was 17 at the time. Investigators investigated his dealings with the alleged victim and determined whether Gaetz paid for sex in violation of federal sex. – human trafficking laws, people familiar with the matter have said. Earlier this year, a federal grand jury in Orlando heard testimony from Gaetz associates, including an ex-girlfriend.
Gaetz, 40, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and said he never paid for sex. He has also said that the only time he had sex with a 17-year-old was when he was also 17.
The ex-girlfriend who testified for the grand jury was one of the women on a trip Gaetz allegedly took to the Bahamas in 2018 that was of particular interest to investigators. The 17-year-old involved in the investigation was also on that trip, though by then she was already 18 or older, people familiar with the case say. She was a central witness in the investigation. People familiar with the case said she is one of two people whose testimony had issues that seasoned prosecutors believed would not make it through a jury.
The other is Gaetz’s former friend, Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector for Seminole County, Fla. Greenberg pleaded guilty in 2021 to sex trafficking of a minor and a host of other crimes as part of a cooperation agreement with authorities.
Greenberg was first charged in 2020 with fabricating allegations and evidence to defame a political opponent, but prosecutors continued to investigate and added charges to his case. He eventually agreed to plead guilty to six charges, including sex trafficking of a child, aggravated identity theft and electronic fraud.