Former Tax Collector Joel Greenberg Agrees to Pay Nearly $ 1.9 Million in Restitution, Seminole County Lawyer Says | national


ORLANDO, Fla .– The Seminole County attorney said on Tuesday he had reached an agreement with former tax collector Joel Greenberg to pay nearly $ 1.9 million in restitution for public money that had been badly spent during his tenure.

“I have reached an agreement in principle, a verbal agreement – and I stress the verbal – with attorney for Joel Greenberg for restitution in the amount of $ 1,870,351,” said County District Attorney Bryant. Applegate to the Commissioners.

Applegate added that it expects the county to get the money in Greenberg’s sentencing slated for March in federal court in downtown Orlando or “before that.”

Greenberg’s attorney, Fritz Scheller, confirmed that a settlement has been reached regarding Greenberg’s reimbursement of the money to Seminole County.

“Sir. Greenberg is cooperating with the federal and county governments for the payment of the restitution,” Scheller said, without adding further details.

Scheller said last July that Greenberg wanted to “make amends for his conduct.”

Since Greenberg was first arrested in June 2020 and ultimately charged with 33 federal crimes, county prosecutors have sought to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars which a county audit found was either questionable or spending. fraudulent public money fraud by Greenberg and his friends and consultants. that he hired.

This included purchasing sports memorabilia – such as shoes and basketballs signed by NBA stars Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan – which he charged to an American Express card owned by the tax collector’s office. It also included buying cryptocurrency with public money and a real estate transaction for a new branch in Winter Springs, according to the audit.

Applegate distributed the total amount of the refund as follows:

– $ 354,000 in personal expenses made with public service credit cards.

— $ 262,000 for the “turnaround” of the property of a tax collector’s office.

— $ 2,754 for the purchase of sports memorabilia.

— $ 98,000 in equipment for blockchain transactions.

—Approximately $ 470,000 for attorney fees spent by the tax collector’s office after the US Department of Justice launched criminal investigations into Greenberg in early 2020.

– $ 685,630 for salaries and payments Greenberg made to friends and associates he hired with public money to work as “consultants.”

The audit, commissioned by Seminole County in the weeks following Greenberg’s first arrest, reported nearly a dozen consultants hired by the former tax collector to fill obscure roles for which little or no working product could be found.

Regarding the real estate transaction, Applegate said it could not “go into specifics on this”.

However, four months after taking office in January 2017, Greenberg bought a former bank building on State Road 434 in Winter Springs for $ 810,000 in public cash – hours after another company formed months earlier by the Greenberg’s close friend Keith Ingersoll and his business partner James Adamczyk bought it for $ 680,000. Greenberg also gave the Ingersoll company an additional $ 132,000 for office furniture and a bank safe.

The audit called the transaction “possible fraudulent activity” in the report.

“The acquisition of this property has a written connivance everywhere,” wrote Dan O’Keefe, auditor at MSL CPAs & Advisors, in his county-commissioned audit report.

Ingersoll and Adamczyk were indicted last November by federal prosecutors, who charged them with a multi-million dollar real estate fraud scheme unrelated to an Orlando-area investor of more than $ 12 million. , according to a federal grand jury indictment.

Applegate said the settlement agreement was reached with Greenberg after several months of discussions with Scheller; outside county counsel, Kara Wick, of Foley & Lardner; the US attorney’s office and current tax collector JR Kroll.

“Everyone has been open and cooperative over these long months and many meetings and phone calls,” Applegate said.

He added that the next step is for the county to recover the full amount.

“I can assure you that if this does not happen, I will ask the commission at a public meeting to continue employing the law firm Foley & Lardner to target every individual and every possible entity. to raise those funds, ”Applegate said. .

Greenberg is currently in the Orange County jail awaiting his conviction in federal court, which is expected to take place in March.

He pleaded guilty last May to six felony counts, including child sex trafficking, identity theft, criminal harassment, wire fraud, creation of fake driver’s licenses and conspiracy to view of bribing a public official. As part of his plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Greenberg agreed to forgo $ 654,800 in assets he obtained through his public office as a tax collector.

According to state financial disclosure forms Greenberg filed while in office, he valued his value at the end of 2019 at nearly $ 5.9 million. This included $ 5.5 million in shares in the family business AWG Inc. and $ 276,000 in bank accounts. He also drew nearly $ 400,000 in income from the family business in 2019, according to the financial report.

He and his wife, Abby Greenberg, bought a home at Heathrow for $ 600,000 in 2019, county records show. Abby Greenberg filed for divorce last October, court records show.

Commissioners Seminole, at Applegate’s request, did not comment on the attorney’s announcement.

“There are still investigations going on, and maybe there will be new ones later,” Applegate said.

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Esther L. Steinbach