Business & EconomyJoseph Harding guilty of money laundering, faces 35 years prison

Joseph Harding guilty of money laundering, faces 35 years prison

Thirty-five years in prison is what awaits former Florida State Representative Joseph Harding as he pleaded guilty to scam, money laundering, and making false statements for COVID-19 relief money, the Department of Justice (DOJ) affirmed.

Harding was accused of seeking COVID relief loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) in 2020, when he was still a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives until his resignation in 2022.

Based on the summons, the 35-year-old purportedly filled out two applications for COVID-19 relief money for fictitious businesses — Vak Shack Inc. and Harding Farms.

Harding stated in the application for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) that the two businesses had more than half a dozen workers with a gross income of over $800,000 from the previous. But, according to the indictment, the companies had no employees, and they had been dormant for months before the applications were filed.

Harding And Loans

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program is designed to provide economic relief to small businesses that are experiencing a temporary loss of revenue.

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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’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 25, 2023, at 11 a.m. at the United States Courthouse in Gainesville, Florida.

“Don’t Say Gay” bill author

Harding earned national popularity last year when he sponsored a  law that forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, as well as material that is not deemed age appropriate.

The legislation, mocked by liberals as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, sparked protests and was opposed by Disney, Central Florida’s largest employer.

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The bill was signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in March of 2022.

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NOTE: The photo above is from Pexels

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