PLANTATION, FLA. (WSVN) – The daughter of the former mayor of Broward County was arrested for allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the federal COVID-19 relief program.
Damara Holness is accused of lying in order to receive $ 300,000 in a farewell PPP loan from the federal government. Her father, Dale Holness, ran the county during the first year of the pandemic.
Holness, who calls herself a political consultant, “falsely stated that Holness Consulting had 18 employees and an average monthly payroll of $ 120,000,” in her June 2020 loan application, officials said.
The statement also said that “Holness Consulting paid $ 1,440,000 in 2019 wages.” However, according to the state, the business was disbanded in 2020 but reinstated on June 22, 2020, a few days before the loan was applied.
In a loan application, investigators said Holness used her father’s campaign headquarters as her business address.
Federal investigators said from July to September 2020: “Defendant Holness began issuing checks to individuals to give the impression that Holness Consulting has full-time employees and is complying with the terms of the PPP loan. At the direction of Defendant Holness, the recipients of the checks signed the checks and returned the checks to Defendant Holness. “
Officials then claim Holness will give the man about $ 200 and cash the checks herself.
The former mayor, who is running for Congress, said he lives separately from his daughter. He also released a statement, which reads, in part:
“Damara didn’t have access to my real estate business, office, and I didn’t have permission to use my address or do business on behalf of Holness’s name or me. She hasn’t had access to my office since 2018.
“She has let me know on several occasions that she is an adult and therefore was running her own business. If she did wrong, I hope she learns from it and uses it as a lesson to better lead her life in the future. “
7News visited Holness’ campaign headquarters at Plantation to seek comment, but representatives at his office declined to be interviewed.
7News also called Damara Holness’ home address in Lauderdale Lakes, which was listed on her forms, but there was also no comment from that place.
Holness is charged with conspiracy to commit electronic fraud. If convicted, she faces 20 years in prison and a $ 250,000 fine.
The $ 300,000 PPP loan for which she was approved was not forgiven.
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