Former Florida state Representative Joseph Harding pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and making false statements for COVID-19 relief money, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The disgraced ex-lawmaker faces up to 35 years in prison.
Harding, a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2020 until his resignation in 2022, is accused of seeking COVID relief loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) in 2020.
According to an indictment, the 35-year-old allegedly filled out two applications for COVID-19 relief money for fabricated businesses — Vak Shack Inc. and Harding Farms.
Harding stated in an application for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) that the two businesses had over a half a dozen employees and gross revenue of more than $800,000 from the previous year. However, according to the indictment, the companies had no employees, and they had been dormant for months before the applications were filed.
Harding applied for $150,000 in loans “he was not entitled” to, according to the DOJ. After receiving the proceeds, while he was still in office, Harding allegedly made three illegal monetary transactions, each totaling more than $10,000.
The former state representative transferred the money to his joint bank account, transferred money into a bank account of a third-party business and made a payment on a credit card bill, the indictment says.
Harding faces prison time for wire fraud, money laundering and making false statements.
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Author: RTM Staff
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