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Florida State Representative is Charged with Lying to Receive Funding for Pandemic Relief

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The U.S. has charged Florida State Representative- Joseph Harding with six counts of wire fraud, wealth laundering, and making wrong statements. On Wednesday, the attorney’s office reported.

Harding, 35, is accused of using illegal bank statements and fraudulent applications to get two “dormant” businesses more than $150,000 in pandemic relief between December 1, 2020, and March 1, 2021.

According to court records, none of Harding’s two companies, The Vak Shack and Harding Farms, LLC, had any clients or sales in 2019. Harding stated on applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) that Harding Farms had gross revenue of $392,000 while The Vak Shack had over $420,000 in 2019.

Additionally, Harding was charged with creating accounts at Chase Bank for the companies on or about the day he submitted the loan application. He was accused of making two wrong statements to the Small Business Administration and two counts of participating in financial transactions with EIDL funding.

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Based on the State Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service, the Office of Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Office of Inspector General of the Small Business Administration (SBA) all participated in the investigation.

The United States Courthouse in Gainesville will host Harding’s trial on January 11, 2023.

Harding’s committee assignments have been temporarily removed, according to Speaker Paul Renner, “to give him time to focus on this manner.”

Marion County is represented by Harding. HB-1577, sometimes known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, was sponsored in part by him.