By Kevin Deutsch
A local political consultant pleaded guilty Friday to lying on a coronavirus relief loan application and fraudulently obtaining hundreds of thousands of dollars intended to help small businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
Omar Smith, 42, of Royal Palm Beach, who did campaign work for former Broward County Mayor Dale Holness and has also been linked to Tamarac City Commissioner Marlon Bolton, faces up to 30 years in federal prison and a fine of around $1 million, federal prosecutors said.
United States District Judge Robin Rosenberg will sentence Smith on a date and time to be announced, according to the government.
Smith’s criminality began in June 2020, when he applied for a $212,500 forgivable, federally-guaranteed Paycheck Protection Program loan on behalf of A Star For I, Inc., a Florida company he owned, prosecutors said.
According to court papers, Smith justified the online loan request by claiming his company employed 30 people and spent an average of $85,000 monthly on payroll. In fact, the records show that Smith’s company employed zero workers and had no payroll expenses.
To fool lenders, Smith allegedly submitted fraudulent payroll tax forms with his loan application, prosecutors said.
A bank in Utah approved A Star For I’s PPP loan application based on Smith’s lies and wired $212,500 to the company’s bank account in Florida in July 2020, prosecutors said.
Money in hand, Smith, spent the next few months creating a paper trail to make it appear his company employed workers and was legitimately spending PPP money, records show. He also issued checks from the company bank account made out to others who did little or no work for A Star For I.
Campaign finance records show Dale Holness made several payments to Smith and his companies for consulting and related campaign work spanning 2019 to 2021.
Holness’ daughter, Damara Holness, was also involved in COVID loan fraud.
In January, a judge sentenced her 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.
- 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.