Associate of former Seminole tax collector Joel Greenberg pleads not guilty to fraud charges

ORLANDO, Florida. –A former consultant to the Seminole County Tax Collector’s Office pleaded not guilty to fraud-related charges Thursday.

Michael Shirley was hired by former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg on the same day Greenberg was sworn in in January 2017, records show.

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Federal prosecutors say Shirley submitted inflated bills to the agency, earning more than $460,000 under contract.

Shirley is also accused of bribing an unnamed government official believed to be Greenberg.

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“I have pleaded not guilty,” Shirley told News 6 following a brief arraignment hearing at the federal courthouse in Orlando. “I really can’t answer questions after that. We have to let the process happen, and there is a level of respect for that.

Shirley faces 1 count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and 4 counts of honest services fraud.

The indictment says Shirley owns a company, Praetorian Integrated Services, who was hired in January 2017 by a “local government agency in Seminole County.”

The indictment does not say which government agency; however, a consulting services agreement dated January 3, 2017 shows Greenberg hired Praetorian as a “consultant” for a fee of $12,500 per month. Shirley signed this contract for Praetorian while Greenberg signed on behalf of the Tax Collector’s Office.

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Shirley, who now lives in Texas, was arrested on August 31 after a Florida grand jury charged her with fraud. He is currently free pending trial.

Greenberg pleaded guilty last year to six federal charges, including child sex trafficking and aggravated identity theft.

More than 18 months after former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg began cooperating with federal prosecutors in a plea deal, a judge must convict Greenberg on six counts of charge, including child sex trafficking.

As part of a plea deal, Greenberg agreed to cooperate with federal authorities on other undisclosed criminal investigations.

Greenberg, who faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 12 years in prison, is expected to be sentenced Dec. 1.

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Esther L. Steinbach