By Kevin Deutsch
Damara Holness, daughter of former Broward County Mayor Dale Holness, was sentenced Monday to 20 months in federal prison for lying on a coronavirus relief loan application and fraudulently obtaining hundreds of thousands of dollars intended to help small businesses, authorities said.
The 28-year-old, who pleaded guilty in November, will also serve five years of supervised release after completing her prison sentence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Florida’s Southern District.
Holness committed the crime of conspiracy to commit wire fraud when she lied on her application and supporting documents to receive a forgivable and federally-guaranteed $300,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan on behalf of her company, Holness Consulting Inc., in June 2020, federal prosecutors said.
At or around the time of the alleged fraud, Holness served as President of the Broward County Democratic Black Caucus, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Holness filed fraudulent payroll tax forms to justify the requested loan. She falsely stated that her company employed 18 people, spending an average of $120,000 a month on payroll, the prosecutors said.
In truth, the prosecutors said Holness Consulting had no employees or payroll expenses. A bank endorsed by the Small Business Administration to fund PPP loans approved Holness Consulting’s PPP loan application based on the lies and wired $300,000 to the company’s bank account in Florida.
Holness had faced up to 20 years in prison at her sentencing.
Her father, who represented part of Tamarac as a county commissioner, lost the Nov. 2 special Democratic primary to newly elected U.S. Representative Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick by just five votes, has filed papers to run for the seat again in this year’s regular congressional election.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.