Former Florida lawmaker News

Former Florida lawmaker who sponsored ‘Don’t Say Gay’ sentenced to prison for COVID-19 relief fraud

It appears that you are describing a specific case of fraud involving the Small Business Administration (SBA) and COVID relief funds.

Dec 14, 2023
Former Florida lawmaker

An attorney for Harding, John Lauro, told CBS MoneyWatch that the $150,000 in loans were repaid to the government prior to the litigation

i n this case, an individual named Harding allegedly defrauded the SBA to obtain Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds by submitting an application in the name of a business that was not active. After receiving the funds, Harding is said to have used the money to pay off his credit card, transferred funds to his joint bank account, and sent money to a third-party business's account. This type of fraudulent activity is illegal and can lead to criminal charges if proven in court. Cases like this are investigated by law enforcement agencies, and individuals involved may face criminal charges and penalties if found guilty.

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Acknowledging wrongdoing and expressing remorse can be a step toward personal accountability and potential rehabilitation. However, legal consequences and penalties are determined by the judicial system, and any expression of remorse may be taken into account during the legal process but does not necessarily mitigate the consequences of criminal activities.

It seems that former Florida state lawmaker Joseph Harding has been sentenced to four months in federal prison for his involvement in acquiring over $150,000 in Small Business Administration loans by providing false information on loan applications. His guilty plea in March to charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements in connection with COVID-19 relief fraud led to this sentencing. In addition to the prison term, he will also face two years of supervised release after his sentence is served. This case underscores the legal consequences individuals can face for fraudulent activities related to COVID-19 relief funds.

Brian J. Payne, a special agent in charge at the IRS Criminal Investigation unit, said Harding “egregiously betrayed the public trust by stealing from COVID relief funds meant to help the very people who elected him.”

Harding has drawn the national spotlight before, as a sponsor of the controversial legislation that banned certain instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom that opponents dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The legislation officially named the “Parental Rights in Education” law, signed by Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last year, set off a national firestorm and drew immediate pushback from LGBTQ advocates.

WN, editor
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