Miami, Florida – Federal prosecutors have charged 28-year-old Fort Lauderdale, Florida resident Damara Holness with lying on a coronavirus relief loan application and fraudulently obtaining hundreds of thousands of dollars intended to help small businesses financially survive the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the information filed yesterday in federal district court in Fort Lauderdale, in June 2020, Holness applied for a $300,000 forgivable, federally-guaranteed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan on behalf of Holness Consulting, Inc., a Florida company that she owned. It is alleged that to justify the requested loan amount, Holness claimed in the on-line loan application, and through supporting fraudulent payroll tax forms, that her company employed 18 people and spent an average of $120,000 each month on payroll. In fact, Holness Consulting had zero employees and no payroll expenses. A bank in Georgia approved Holness Consulting’s PPP loan application based on the lies and wired $300,000 to the company’s bank account in Florida, says the information.
Damara Holness is a former president of the Broward County Democratic Black Caucus.
The information charges Holness with conspiring to commit wire fraud. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Holness made her initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick M. Hunt, who sits in Ft. Lauderdale. Holness was released from custody on a $100,000 personal surety bond.