Former Florida Tax Collector Charged with Identity Theft

A former Florida tax collector has been indicted on charges of stalking a political opponent and stealing their identity.

Federal stalking charges were brought against Lake Mary resident Joel Greenberg in June. The 35-year-old is accused of spreading false information about a political opponent who worked at a Seminole County school.

According to the indictment, Greenberg created fake social media accounts claiming to be a “very concerned teacher” at the victim's school. Documents show that between October 10 and November 15, 2019, the elected official attempted to spread false information about his opponent online and in a letter sent to the victim's employer.

Misinformation allegedly cast about by Greenberg included the accusation that the victim was having a sexual relationship with a student. 

Greenberg is also accused of setting up a fake Twitter account with the victim’s name and image and using it to portray the victim as a segregationist and white supremacist. 

The Department of Justice said that Greenberg's alleged actions caused the victim and his family “substantial emotional distress."

Greenberg pleaded not guilty to the stalking charges on June 28 via his attorney. In a second indictment filed last week, the former tax collector is further accused of using his office to create fake driver's licenses for himself. 

Greenberg was elected as Seminole County Tax Collector in 2016 and began serving the public in 2017. He resigned from his office on June 24, a week after being indicted by a grand jury. 

Greenberg’s alleged stalking victim is Brian Beute, whose name emerged in a report released by social media monitoring company Graphika. The report detailed how Roger Stone hired people to harass political opponents and critics on Facebook. 

The Orlando Sentinel reports that "one of the 'assets' identified by Facebook as working on behalf of Stone shared content on social media about Beute similar to the smears Greenberg is accused of spreading."

Seminole County Tax Collector candidate Brian Beute confirmed through his attorney that he was the target of the actions Greenberg is accused of in the federal indictment.

If convicted, Greenberg faces a minimum 10 years in federal prison.

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