Joel Greenberg, victim of stalking, calls on state to review former tax collector’s case
SEMINOLE COUNTY, FL – As the former Seminole County tax collector awaits conviction on federal charges including child sex trafficking and stalking a political rival, one of Joel Greenberg’s victims calls for an external review of the how state and local authorities initially investigated the elected official.
Brian Beute, a music teacher who filed papers to run as a tax collector against Greenberg in the 2020 election, was the target of a political smear campaign that Greenberg now admits to orchestrating.
“I just find it strange that what happened in this county for four years not only fell through the cracks but also continues to be ignored,” said Beute. âThere are far too many questions and not enough answers. “
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Most of the crimes Greenberg recently pleaded guilty to were first discovered by federal investigators in the US Department of Justice rather than state or local authorities.
Beute, a longtime Republican who describes himself, urges Gov. Ron DeSantis to initiate a ‘post-mortem’ review of how state officials have handled complaints against Greenberg after he came into office. function in 2017 and whether Greenberg’s crimes could have been discovered sooner.
âGov. Ron DeSantis has the power to open an investigation, âsaid Beute. “It’s a win-win for everyone, including himself.”
Beute said DeSantis’ planning office has yet to hold a meeting requested by Beute to share his concerns.
Representatives from the DeSantis office did not respond to multiple News 6 emails seeking comment on this story and did not publicly announce their intention to look into the Greenberg case.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, the state’s top prosecutor, has also not embarked on an outside investigation as Beute wishes. His office was never involved in any aspect of the Greenberg investigation or prosecution.
“You will have to ask the specific individual investigation agency,” Moody told News 6 in response to questions about the Greenberg case.
GREENBERG LETTER OF INQUIRY FROM LOCAL AUTHORITIES
Less than a week after Beute entered the race to challenge Greenberg in October 2019, an anonymous letter arrived at Beute private school accusing the teacher of having had sex with a student.
“Am I educating other people’s children and (am) accused of something like this?” Said Beute. “I have daughters, so I have to explain this to them.”
Beute, co-founder of the Save Rural Seminole organization, said he had previously experienced harassment related to his work to preserve the county’s land from development. He surmised that the letter sent to his school was also politically motivated.
âThis is an attempt to undermine the integrity of the 2020 local elections,â said David Bear, a lawyer who met with Beute through Save Rural Seminole.
According to Bear, investigators from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office quickly determined that the allegations against Beute in the letter were without merit.
The agency later discovered fingerprints on the letter and envelope belonged to Greenberg. Detectives also found evidence that fake Facebook and Twitter accounts used to spread false accusations against the teacher were set up at Greenberg’s home.
Greenberg pleaded guilty in May to harassing Beute. In the detailed plea deal, Greenberg admitted to sending the letter and setting up the social media accounts.
âI have nothing but good things to say about the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and how they handled it,â Bear said.
After identifying Greenberg as the source of the letter and the social media accounts, the Seminole and Brevard County state attorney said the US attorney’s office requested the local investigation be suspended and surrendered evidence to the FBI so that it does not interfere with an ongoing federal investigation.
“It is a well-established and common practice that local and state criminal investigations and prosecutions are deferred when a duplicate or simultaneous federal investigation or prosecution against an accused has been undertaken,” said Todd Brown, spokesperson for 18th Judicial Circuit State Attorney. Phil Archer. âOften, federal offenses carry harsher penalties and allow for in-depth investigations into offenses that cross or extend beyond local and state jurisdictional boundaries. “
COMPLAINTS AGAINST GREENBERG HAVE MADE LITTLE AFTER OPERATION
The federal government’s investigation into Greenberg’s financial transactions at the tax collector’s office was underway as early as April 2019, according to court records, about six months before Greenberg’s letter arrived at Beute’s school.
But Greenberg was the subject of controversy and complaints shortly after taking office as a tax collector in January 2017.
Greenberg announced in June 2017 that his employees could openly carry firearms, a move former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi later said in an inappropriate opinion.
Six months later, a motorist complained that Greenberg tried to stop him for speeding by using white lights on his vehicle and displaying a tax collector badge.
Although the Assistant Attorney General concluded that it was inappropriate for Greenberg to wear his badge during the encounter, she determined that the tax collector had not violated Florida law, which prohibits someone from acting as a policeman while falsely claiming to be one.
“The incident involving Mr. Greenberg’s alleged identity theft of a law enforcement officer has been fully investigated by the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and clearly established as n ‘being not a criminal offense,’ said the spokesperson for the prosecutor.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was alerted to several charges against Greenberg in 2017 and 2018, according to the Orlando Sentry but no criminal charges have been laid.
“The FDLE did not investigate the same allegations the FBI investigated, and Joel Greenberg was not subsequently charged with the allegations we investigated,” said an FDLE spokesperson. âWe support our investigations. “
The Florida Department of Revenue, which provides oversight and assistance to local tax collectors, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
After Greenberg’s arrest in June 2020, an audit by the Seminole County Tax Collector‘s Office concluded that Greenberg mis-spent millions of dollars in taxes during his tenure.
Beute believes the governor should request an external review of all previous allegations against Greenberg to assess how authorities have handled them.
“It is an opportunity to [DeSantis] to reiterate to all Floridians that he is indeed a law enforcement executive, âBeute said.
The teacher’s lawyer agrees.
âYou don’t want to play too much against the Monday morning quarterback,â Bear said. “I don’t think it is too much to say that there should be some kind of autopsy [investigation] on why [the state] didn’t look into it any further and didn’t use this as a way to catch all of the insane criminal corruption that we have now confirmed to be well and truly underway.
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