Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg used driver’s licenses surrendered to his office by customers to create fake identification cards for himself, according to a newly filed federal indictment.
Greenberg, who resigned and dropped his bid for re-election after an earlier indictment on charges that he stalked a political opponent, now faces four additional charges related to identity theft and the production of false documents, according to an indictment filed Wednesday.
Vincent Citro, Greenberg’s attorney, declined to comment on the new charges. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, which is prosecuting the case, did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the charging document, customers visiting tax collector branches that issued driver’s licenses and Florida ID cards would sometimes surrender their old IDs to Greenberg’s staff to be destroyed.
But Greenberg, prosecutors now allege, “used his access to the Seminole County Tax Collector’s Office to take surrendered driver licenses before they were shredded.”
He then “used the surrendered driver licenses that he had taken to cause fake driver licenses to be produced that had his photograph but the personal information of the victims whose driver licenses he had taken.”
The indictment indicates that Greenberg produced at least two fake photo IDs for himself — a Puerto Rico driver’s license and a Florida driver’s license — each of which featured his photograph but the name and personal information of an unknowing customer of his office.
Brian Bieber, an attorney at GrayRobinson who focuses on white collar crime and is representing the tax collector’s office, said no other employees of the office are involved in the alleged crimes.
“The office as a whole was unaware of Mr. Greenberg’s additional alleged criminal conduct,” Beiber said. “Today’s superseding indictment was another surprise to the employees of the tax collector’s office.”
The victims are identified in court paperwork only by their initials. According to the indictment, Greenberg faked the Puerto Rico ID sometime between Sept. 21, 2018, and his June 23 arrest in the stalking case, and faked the Florida ID sometime between Dec. 4 and June 23.
Greenberg, 35, is slated for arraignment on the new charges July 24. He had pleaded not guilty to the stalking-related charges.
Those charges stemmed from an alleged effort to smear Brian Beute, a fine arts teacher at Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park and Republican rival of Greenberg’s in the tax collector’s race.
Prosecutors said Greenberg posed as concerned students in letters to Trinity Prep that accused Beute of sexual misconduct. Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg said in court last month that Greenberg’s DNA and fingerprints were found on nine letters sent to the school.
Meanwhile, a Twitter account set up in Beute’s name and a Facebook account that purported to belong to a concerned teacher were traced to the IP address of Greenberg’s home, Handberg said. In addition to seeking to frame him as a sexual abuser, Greenberg tried to portray Beute as “a segregationist and in favor of white supremacy,” officials said.
The school first turned the letters over to the Seminole Sheriff’s Office. But investigators determined they were written by an adult, not a student. Because they were delivered though the U.S. Mail, the case was turned over to federal investigators with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Beute was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Earlier this week, attorneys for Greenberg filed a court motion seeking more information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office about the stalking-related charges. Specifically, they asked for the name of the victim, who is not identified in the indictment and is only referred to as a “school employee” and “political opponent.” Greenberg’s attorneys also asked to see the social media posts he is charged with creating.
Greenberg’s attorneys also said that they had tried to meet with investigators for months before his surprise arrest, but those requests were denied.
The filing says agents searched Greenberg’s home on the morning he was arrested and took communications with his attorney, an electronic device used by a 3-year-old, birth certificates, Social Security cards and other documents belonging to Greenberg and his family.
Greenberg — who had survived a slew of controversies during his brief time in office, from an Orlando Sentinel exposé on big-money contracts doled out to friends, to an incident in which he used flashing white lights to pull over a motorist — resigned the day after his arrest in late June.
He soon also withdrew his bid for re-election. Remaining Republican candidates Beute and J.R. Kroll, a real estate broker, will face each other in their party’s Aug. 18 primary, with the winner taking on Democrat Lynn Moira Dictor on November’s general election ballot.
Staff writer Beth Kassab contributed.
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