Matt Gaetz subpoenaed in friend's lawsuit accusing others of defamation in sex trafficking probe

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., has been subpoenaed to springiness a deposition arsenic portion of a civilian suit revenge by a longtime friend and governmental state who alleges he was defamed during a lengthy Justice Department investigation into accusations that nan Florida congressman had activity pinch a 17-year-old girl.

The underlying lawsuit, revenge by erstwhile Florida authorities lawmaker Chris Dorworth, lists respective defendants including nan young unnamed female and Joel Greenberg, a erstwhile Orlando-area elected taxation collector now serving 11 years successful situation aft pleading blameworthy to a half twelve national crimes specified arsenic activity trafficking of a minor.

Gaetz, who erstwhile called Greenberg his "wingman," faced an investigation launched successful 2020 by nan Justice Department complete allegations he had a intersexual narration pinch a minor. He was informed past twelvemonth that nary charges would beryllium brought against him.

Dorworth revenge his suit aft Greenberg alleged that nan erstwhile Republican legislator had ties to nan scandal.

A Gaetz spokesperson said Thursday that nan congressman is not a statement to nan underlying lawsuit.

“Congressman Gaetz received a witnesser lawsuit successful an ongoing suit betwixt extracurricular parties,” nan spokesperson said. “He is not being sued, and he is neither a plaintiff nor a suspect astatine this time.”

The spokesperson did not opportunity whether Gaetz would comply pinch nan subpoena.

ABC News first reported connected nan subpoena.

The DOJ investigation focused, successful part, connected a travel to the Bahamas and whether girls connected that travel were underage and paid to recreation for sex, which would break national law.

Dorworth told NBC News connected Thursday that he believes nan push to get Gaetz to springiness a deposition is a “shameless” effort by Greenberg, whose family is able and politically connected successful nan Orlando area, to effort and trim his sentence.

“The national authorities investigated their lies afloat and came backmost pinch nary charges. Greenberg’s lawyers person publically clamored for much group to beryllium charged to trim his situation sentence. It is simply a grotesque and shameless maltreatment of their wealthiness and makes them responsible for nan damages they person each conducted, successful my opinion.”

Dorworth’s lawsuit, revenge successful April, alleges that Greenberg and others falsely attempted to impeach him of “sex trafficking, activity pinch a minor, prostitution, obstruction of justice.”

Gaetz has denied immoderate wrongdoing and was cleared by nan Justice Department, but nan deposition could unit him to reply questions nether oath astir allegations that he had activity pinch a minor.

Greenberg’s attorney, Fritz Scheller, wrote successful a mobility to disregard Dorworth’s suit that his declare that Greenberg “colluded” pinch nan underage victim, identified only arsenic AB successful tribunal filings, was false.

“To judge nan Plaintiff’s RICO claim, 1 must judge a bid of irrational premises that supply its foundation,” Scheller wrote. “That is, that Joel Greenberg colluded pinch his unfortunate AB to falsely implicate nan Plaintiff to trim nan former’s criminal liability aliases alternatively truthful AB could bring a civilian suit against Gaetz and nan Plaintiff.”

The Republican-led House Ethics Committee is also investigating the now-dismissed Justice Department allegation that included Gaetz being progressive successful activity trafficking and imaginable lobbying violations.

Greenberg told investigators that Gaetz and others participated successful nan aforesaid activity crimes that led him to beryllium sent to national prison, practice that initially delayed his sentencing and reduced nan number of charges he was facing, but U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell yet said Greenberg was among nan astir corrupt nationalist officials he had ever encountered.

“I person ne'er seen a suspect who has committed truthful galore different types of crimes successful specified a comparatively short play of time,” he said astatine Greenberg's sentencing hearing.

Matt Dixon

Matt Dixon is simply a elder nationalist authorities newsman for NBC News, based successful Florida.