Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz won't be charged in sex trafficking probe, per Justice Department
WASHINGTON D.C. - The Justice Department will not pursue charges against Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., after a years long probe into sex trafficking allegations.
The lawmaker who represents much of the Florida Panhandle issued a statement through his congressional office that the long-running investigation was over. Gaetz had insisted throughout he was innocent of any wrongdoing.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Gaetz's office confirmed that "the Department of Justice has confirmed to Congressman Gaetz’s attorneys that their investigation has concluded and that he will not be charged with any crimes."
FROM 2021: Rep. Matt Gaetz denies wrongdoing amid report he's being investigated over alleged relationship with teen girl
While he is a relatively junior member of Congress, Gaetz has gained national attention through his frequent cable news appearances in recent years in which he offered an unvarnished defense of Trump. But few Republicans had rushed to support him as the investigation unfolded and shadowed his career, and some treated him like a pariah.
Federal prosecutors were investigating whether Gaetz and onetime political ally Joel Greenberg paid underage girls and escorts or offered them gifts in exchange for sex, according to two people familiar with the case who were not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Greenberg, a fellow Republican who served as the tax collector in Seminole County, admitted as part of a plea deal with prosecutors that he paid women and an underage girl to have sex with him and other men. The men were not identified in court documents when he pleaded guilty.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., walks with his wife, Ginger Luckey. (Getty Images)
Greenberg was sentenced in late 2022 to 11 years in federal prison for a variety of crimes.
Federal investigators were looking into a trip that Gaetz took to the Bahamas with a group of women and Jason Pirozzolo, a hand surgeon and Gaetz campaign donor, and whether the women were paid or received gifts to have sex with the men, said a person familiar with the matter.
David Haas, a lawyer for Pirozzolo, said in a statement Wednesday that he received a similar notification from the Justice Department about the investigation being closed.
"Dr. Pirozzolo requests that he and his family’s privacy be respected as the last few years have been extremely difficult to endure," Haas said.
Prosecutors had also been investigating whether Gaetz and his associates tried to secure government jobs for some of the women, the people said. Prosecutors were scrutinizing Gaetz’s connections to the medical marijuana sector, including whether his associates sought to influence legislation Gaetz sponsored.
The House ethics committee in April 2021 announced an investigation into Gaetz. The opening of that bipartisan inquiry was one of the first official indications that Gaetz’s party leaders were willing to scrutinize his actions.
FOX News contributed to this report