Last week we introduced you to the story of Joel Greenberg’s wide-ranging cryptocurrency scheme as Seminole County Tax Collector, a story that appeared prominently in the media for its connection to Florida house representative Matt Gaetz. There are three rings to this circus. The ringmaster appears to be Joel Greenberg, who was arrested in 2020 and pleaded guilty in May of this year to six federal charges for-- among other things-- paying a minor for sex and using taxpayer dollars to buy cryptocurrency for himself. Follow us on Twitter and support us on Patreon.
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Michael: Last week we introduced you to the story of Joel Greenberg’s wide-ranging cryptocurrency scheme as Seminole County Tax Collector, a story that appeared prominently in the media for its connection to Florida house representative Matt Gaetz. There are three rings to this circus. And in the center is Joel Greenberg, who was arrested in 2020 and pleaded guilty in May of this year to six federal charges for-- among other things-- paying a minor for sex and using taxpayer dollars to buy cryptocurrency for himself.
Austin: In the first ring there is Jacob Engels, who Roger Stone admitted in court had access to his phone and social media back in 2019. Engels was one of the people involved that same year in the character assassination of Brian Beute, whose story we told in episode 22.
Michael: In the second ring there is former state house representative, former lobbyist, and businessman Chris Dorworth, whose River Cross housing development has been the subject of controversy in the county. As tax collector, Greenberg sent a letter under his name to Seminole County commissioners urging them to vote in favor of the development. Brian Beute and other community members formed an organization called Save Rural Seminole to oppose Dorworth and his associates.
Austin: In the third and final ring of the circus is Keith Ingersoll, another wealthy land developer, whose firm KI Consulting had a $48,000 contract with the tax collector’s office for which auditors say “there was no evidence of work.” Ingersoll is also linked with the Honorary Belarussian Consulate in Florida, where theologian Mikhail Morgulis is the consul. The two are linked with another cryptocurrency initial coin offering called Organic Fresh Coin, which we will get to later.
Michael: In the center of our circus again is supposed-ringmaster Joel Greenberg. In the first ring is right wing media activist Jacob Engels. In the second ring is former Florida state house speaker-designate Chris Dorworth. And in the final ring is real estate mogul Keith Ingersoll.
Austin: We began this series with Brian Beute because his story is a legible entry point for people who are unfamiliar with the story of the Seminole County Tax Collector.
Michael: But this week, we have to get out our corkboard and string.
Austin: Let’s go back to 1978, to the beginning of a conservative movement led by Richard Viguerie. Viguerie’s direct mail empire came into being in the 70s and was critical to the election of Ronald Reagan and the neoconservative turn in American politics.
Michael: In Viguerie’s 2014 book Takeover, he describes the role of his direct mail fundraising efforts as “proof of the New Right’s ability to engage in and finance important political activity outside of the Republican Party....those in the New Right would cinch up their belts, organize, call meetings, develop plans, and send out a couple million letters explaining why the way to win the next battle was to defeat those who voted wrong—be they Democrats or Republicans—and keep pushing forward toward our goal of having conservatives govern America.”
Austin: In 1986, the Washington Post ran a story called “The Rise and Gall of Roger Stone,” detailing the self-described dirty-trickster’s relationship with Viguerie, which dated back to 1976 when Stone was in youth outreach for Ronald Reagan.
Michael: It’s Viguerie’s direct mail list that formed the backbone of what became a modern mailing list in the era of blogs, talk radio, and an increasingly accessible internet. The tactics of direct mailing campaigns became the tactics of email lists, troll farms, brigaded chat rooms, and the flooding of research RSS feeds.
Austin: In 2019, following Roger Stone’s indictment, he was brought before the court for an Instagram post and statement’s made to the press, which the judge ruled were “likely to interfere with his right to have a fair trial by an impartial jury.”
Michael: In the February 2019 hearing, Roger Stone said that Jacob Engels had access to his social media and smartphone. It was Engels who had access to the accounts when Stone’s Instagram made a post that included the face of Judge Amy Berman Jackson and a crosshair in the top left-hand corner.
Austin: This week The Gateway Pundit published a story about Jacob Engels’ efforts to raise money for his defunct media outlet. Across Twitter came hundreds of accounts tweeting not just the story but identical text promoting a narrative that Engels was allegedly hacked by left wing activists.
Michael: Just type “Jacob Engels” into the Twitter search bar, find the reposts of the Gateway Pundit article and you’ll see what we’re talking about.
Austin: As we laid out last week, Jacob Engels used his journalistic guise as owner of the Central Florida Post to legitimize the efforts to assassinate the character of Brian Beute.
Michael: According to reporting by the Orlando Sentinel, Engels “is an ally and onetime business partner of,” Leslie ‘L.A.’ Key and her husband Robert Hoogland. Key is described by the Sentinel as “a Trump activist.” Greenberg gave Key a six figure staff position and paid Hoogland over ten grand in legal fees.
Austin: So let’s consider this to be our first hoop in this three ring circus. In the first ring we have Jacob Engels and Roger Stone, who are connected to Greenberg through Engels’ relationship with LA Key and Robert Hoogland. Engels helped Greenberg by attacking Brian Beute online.
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Austin: In the second ring of the circus we have former Florida state house representative Chris Dorworth and his River Cross land development, which was the project that led Brian Beute to start Save Rural Seminole with Jay Miller in 2018.
Michael: Dorworth was about as big as you can be in state politics. While at Duke in the late 90s, he held student leadership positions in Florida and North Carolina. In 2004 he was the Seminole County chairman of the Bush/Cheney re-election bid. In 2007, he was elected to the Florida state house of representatives where he was selected in 2010 as “speaker-designate” for an eventual 2014 legislative session. He had support from Disney to the tune of $180,000 in 2011 alone. But in 2012, after years of ethics investigations in Tallahassee and jetting around on donors dimes, he was defeated by Democrat Mike Clelland and his grassroots campaign of Republican voters who couldn’t hold their nose and support the would-be speaker.
Austin: Dorworth was the state house rep for parts of Orange and Seminole Counties from his election in 2007 to the end of his second term in 2012. Afterwards he took a lobbying job at Brian Ballard’s firm, where he worked until resigning the post earlier this year amid the Greenberg controversy.
Michael: What we didn’t mention in last week’s episode was that Beute’s co-founder at Save Rural Seminole also suffered a similar set of consequences for his political activity in the summer of 2018.
Austin: The Orlando Sentinel reported:
“Around the same time [that a local blogger started to attack Jay Miller online for his work with Save Rural Seminole], Miller, who worked for a military contractor, said he got a call from his boss who told him the company had received an anonymous letter accusing him of drug-dealing and other crimes. Miller said it was untrue and his boss later said they cleared him after looking into the claims.
“Miller still doesn’t know who sent the letter. But soon after, he said he got a call from Jacob Engels, who’d written the blog post about Miller’s arrest on his website, Central Florida Post. Engels, he said, offered to begin writing positive stories about Save Rural Seminole and its leaders — in exchange for $10,000.”
Michael: If you’ve heard our first episode in this series, then you know that this is essentially the same tactic that was deployed against Brian Beute after he declared himself as Greenberg’s primary opponent.
Austin: First, an anonymous letter arrives at the employers of both Beute and Miller making false claims of misconduct, and then Jacob Engels appears on the scene somehow aware of the contents of those letters.
Michael: In 2018, county commissioners unanimously rejected Dorworth’s bid, but not before Greenberg sent an email to the county commission on behalf of River Cross. According to the metadata collected from the digital document’s editing history, Dorworth and Greenberg were both editors of the document. Greenberg sent it to the commissioners with no mention of Dorworth.
Austin: The failure of the bid led Dorworth to sue the county over the 2004 referendum that protects the land.
Michael: Dorworth was also known to have been guests in D.C. of the Trump administration with Greenberg and Matt Gaetz. Before his arrest, Greenberg prolifically posted to Facebook and Twitter. He even uploaded a photo of himself with Dorworth and Gaetz in front of the White House to his Twitter profile in 2019.
Austin: As the federal investigation closed ranks around Greenberg in April of 2021, Dorworth resigned from his lobbying position at Ballard Partners after a tenure stretching back to his unexpected loss in the 2012 election.
Michael: This is the second ring of the circus. In it is Chris Dorworth, Matt Gaetz and River Cross. Greenberg colluded with Dorworth on behalf of the land development project in rural Seminole County. Greenberg and Dorworth both had their political opponents attacked by nearly identical tactics, both conspicuously involving Jacob Engels whose associates had contracts and positions with the Seminole County Tax Collector. Dorworth, Gaetz, and Greenberg were both guests of President Trump at the White House in 2019.
Austin: Then there’s Keith Ingersoll.
Michael: Oh boy, is there Keith Ingersoll... The upshot here is that Ingersoll’s company had a contract with the Seminole County tax collector. He was involved in a shady real estate deal with the agency as well. Furthermore, within a week of Greenberg’s first crypto purchase with funds obtained from Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, a crypto initial coin offering called Organic Fresh Coin was incorporated to the same office suite as Ingersoll’s consulting firm.
Austin: And we must start here with Ingersoll’s company K.I. Consulting, which was signed to a contract with the Seminole County Tax Collector in January of 2017.
Michael: According to the independent auditor investigating the tax agency, there was, “no evidence of work product,” from K.I. Consulting. But Ingersoll did act as a real estate advisor in the purchase of an old bank building on State Road 434.
Austin: The Orlando Sentinel reported that in May of 2017 that an acquaintance of Ingersoll purchased the old bank for $680,000. Within hours of the initial transaction, Greenberg paid the recently formed “Shooters Orlando Incorporated” $810,000 for the property-- 130 grand more than the property had sold for earlier that same day.
Michael: In 2017, Ingersol told the Sentinel that, “‘I will put my hand on the Bible and say there is no collusion between Joel Greenberg and Jim Adamczyk,’... ‘My job was to help [Greenberg] find properties, and that Winter Springs property happened to come up.’”
Austin: So, here’s where things actually get weird.
Michael: Had they not already?
[Organic Fresh Coin Mix]
Austin: Within a week of Greenberg’s acquisition of the first $100,000 dollars from the Florida Chief Financial Officer, Organic Fresh Coin was incorporated into the same office suite listed for Ingersoll’s KI Consulting firm.
Michael: Organic Fresh Coin, as you may have picked up already in this episode, was an initial coin offering that claimed to be backed by Lukashenko’s Belarussian government.
Austin: This connection is made more credible by the inclusion of Mikhail Morgulis on the Organic Fresh Coin advisory board in the fresh coin white paper. Morgulis was named Honorary Consul of the Republic of Belarus in 2015. Morgulis was among the writers and theologians who fled the Soviet Union in the 70s.
Michael: Yulia Konstantinova is listed in the Organic Fresh Coin whitepaper as the president. Konstantinova is described there as having “unique experience and direct relationships with the country of Belarus.”
Austin: Despite his inclusion in the whitepaper’s list of advisors, Morgulis claimed to Forensic News that he was not a partner of Organic Fresh Coin, nor had he been paid by them.
Michael: Forensic News also reported that Ingersoll may not be the only link between the Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg and Organic Fresh Coin. The fresh coin LinkedIn page tagged Jim Adamczyk as a business partner in one of its posts. Adamczyk made over a quarter of a million dollars in a real estate transaction flagged in the audit of Seminole County.
Austin: So there you have it. Our three ring circus. Engels, Dorworth, Ingersoll.
Michael: We’ve suggested here that Greenberg was the ringmaster. But was he? Or is that just what we’re meant to see here?
Austin: Consider for a moment there is a conspicuous lack of interest in the state of Florida to investigate this matter further, a matter that implicates several high ranking members of the Florida GOP.
Michael: While the feds seem to have flipped Greenberg and some close to him, Governor Ron Desantis seems unwilling to contribute state-level oversight.
Austin: It is worth considering here that both Chris Dorworth and Matt Gaetz were both on Desantis’ transition team. Desantis’ CFO Jimmy Patronis currently employs Zane Ertel as a regional manager. Ertel’s parents Mike and Michelle had contracts with Greenberg’s tax collection agency. Mike Ertel was even appointed as Desantis’ secretary of state but resigned after blackface photos surfaced showing the new appointee dressed as a hurricane Katrina survivor just two months after nearly two thousand people died in that storm.
Michael: We shouldn’t even have to tell you at this point our theory on why there was no oversight and continues to be no state-level investigation into the Greenberg tax agency.
Austin: Desantis and the heights of the Florida GOP had connections to the operation before the story broke and continues to be connected to it through Jimmy Patronis’ relationship with the Ertels.
Michael: We’re going to continue investigating this story in the coming weeks and months. Joel Greenberg will finally be sentenced next year, at which time new revelations about the extent of this criminal network may be revealed.
Austin: We’re going to spend this time searching for and demanding answers on behalf of the Seminole County taxpayer.
Michael: We’re concerned that the government of the state of Florida seems to be used as a platform for cryptocurrency fraud. In 2019, Desantis started the Florida Blockchain Taskforce to explore and develop a “Master Plan” for the expansion of blockchain companies in the state.
Austin: And we think it may go all the way up. Not just to Tallahassee. But to Washington DC as well.
Michael: Before we go, we must acknowledge the reporters whose work has gone into what we’ve said here today. You can find their names and links to their articles in the episode transcript, which will be accessible on Twitter and for the public on our Patreon. Reporters like the Orlando Sentinel’s Martin E. Comas, Jason Garcia, and editor Jeff Weiner. Thanks to Mediaite’s Sarah Rumpf for her reporting on Jacob Engels. Thanks to Forensic News’ Scott Stedman, who reported the details on Keith Ingersoll’s connections with Organic Fresh Coin and the Belarussian consulate. Stedman worked closely with @gal_suburban on Twitter to report that story. If you want to keep tabs on Engels, then you should follow Brian Beute on Twitter, as well as @RogerWants. They’re tirelessly committed to this story and maybe you should be too.
Austin: Once again the transcript of this episode will be made widely available through our Twitter, Patreon, and other outlets as the week goes on. You should be able to access it through our Buzzsprout domain site too.
Michael: Before we go, we have one correction from last week. I said Matt Gaetz was from the Orlando area. That is incorrect. He was born in Broward County and is the representative for an area near Pensacola Florida. We can only try to do better next week.