Prosecutors in the Justice Department’s public integrity section have begun probing a trip to the Bahamas Rep.Matt Gaetz and whether the by embattled Florida lawmaker accepted paid escorts as part of an influence campaign for medical marijuana.
The prosecutors are examining whether Gaetz accepted favors in exchange for official actions relating to marijuana legislation, which he has championed publicly.He has introduced legislation on the subject.</ reported earlier this month that DOJ was examining the trip, where Gaetz was accompanied by marijuana entrepreneur Dr Jason Pirozzolo, a hand surgeon and co-founder of The American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association (AMMPA), in late 2018 or early 2019.
Pirozzolo footed the bill for the travel expenses and accommodations – as well as female escorts, sources told the network.
Investigators are allegedly looking into whether the escorts were illegally trafficked across state or international lines for the purpose of having sex with Gaetz.
A trip Matt Gaetz (left) allegedly took to the Bahamas with a marijuana entrepreneur Jason Pirozzolo (right) over two years ago is reportedly being scrutinized by federal officials investigating sex trafficking allegations against the Florida congressman
Dr Jason Pirozzolo (right) is a hand surgeon and co-founder of The American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association. He is pictured with his partner at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ State of the State address in 2019
Gaetz, a Republican congressman from Florida, is pictured with his fiancée Ginger Luckey
‘Traveling across state lines is what creates a federal hook for a prosecution,’ Arlo Devlin-Brown, a former prosecutor and partner at Covington & Burling, told CBS.
‘It doesn’t matter that [Gaetz] personally paid them as long as he knows someone is doing that.’
Investigators are also working to determine whether Gaetz accepted the escorts in exchange for political access or legislative favors, the sources said.
Prosecutors have not accused Gaetz or Pirozzolo of any wrongdoing.Gaetz has denied allegations against him and ever paying for sex. An attorney for Dr. Pirozzolo reached by DailyMail.com had no comment.
Gaetz told Fox News: ‘Providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you’re dating who are of legal age is not a crime,’ following reports about his interactions with Joel Greenberg, a former county tax commissioner in Florida.
Investigators are also reportedly probing whether Gaetz was engaged in a relationship with a 17-year-old girl.A sex-trafficking charge against Greenberg reportedly involves the same girl.
‘If there’s evidence of a quid pro quo that the congressman was provided with benefits in return for him sponsoring some legislation that’s of interest to the donor, that’s a federal crime,’ Devlin-Brown said.
Pirozzolo spoke about his ties to Gaetz in a July 2018 Ganjapreneur podcast, where he said he was working with the congressman to draw up federal legislation to bolster medical research of cannabis.
‘Congressman Matt Gaetz is in the process of working on legislation up in Washington, DC, that will help facilitate research on the nationwide level.And we should see a lot of good benefit from them,’ Pirozzolo said.
The podcast came three months after Gaetz introduced the Medical Cannabis Research Act in Congress. He introduced the bill again in January 2019, but both times it was not brought to a vote.
Gaetz was a speaker at two conferences hosted by AMMPA, the organization Pirozzolo founded and serves as chairman of the board.
The first conference Gaetz spoke at in October 2017 was followed immediately by a fundraiser for his congressional campaign, according to the Central Florida Post. The second conference was in May 2018.
FEC records show that Pirozzolo made two separate $1,000 donations to Gaetz’ campaign in 2016 and 2017.
Gaetz is seen speaking at an American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association conference in May 2018.Pirozzolo is a co-founder and chairman of the association
Pirozzolo is pictured (right) at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ inauguration in 2019
Pirozzolo (left) is pictured meeting Donald Trump by Air Force One in Orlando in 2019