Damara Holness, daughter of Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, faces up to twenty years in prison after being charged by the U.S. Attorney with fraudulently obtaining a COVID-19 panademic PPP federal loan. Holness was charged with one count of felony conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The arrest comes nearly one year after REDBROWARD first exposed Holness’ receipt of the $300,000 PPP loan under suspicious circumstances.
On August 26, 2020 REDBROWARD revealed how Holness Consulting Inc., a Florida corporation based inside Broward Mayor Dale Holness’ real estate office received a loan up to $300,000 via the Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) intended to help companies affected by the COVID-19 lockdown pay employees. According to State records, Holness Consulting Inc. is located at 4325 W. Sunrise Blvd in Plantation. Damara Holness is listed as its president.
Two businesses owned by Broward Mayor Dale Holness, All Broward Realty and American Holding Group, are also located at 4325 W. Sunrise Blvd in Plantation.
State corporation records show Damara Holness formed Holness Consulting Inc in November 2018. Ms. Holness, president of the Broward Black Democratic Party Caucus, is active in local and State political campaigns. In December 2018, Holness Consulting Inc received a $350 payment from Coral Springs Commissioner Joshua Simmons. In June 2019, Coral Commission candidate Khurrum Wahid paid $4,500 to Holness Consulting Inc.
It appears Holness Consulting Inc failed to file its 2019 annual report in 2019. Holness Consulting Inc. filed for reinstatement on June 22, 2020. Five days later, Holness Consulting Inc received its PPP loan.
According to available records, Holness Consulting Inc. claims to have eighteen employees. It is rare for any local political consultant to employ anyone other than themselves.
According to the charging documents, Damara Holness claimed to have a monthly payroll of $120,000 at Holness Consulting. US Attorney Jeffrey Kaplan alleges Holness used fraudulent payroll tax documents to obtain the PPP loan.
In order to obtain a PPP loan Damara Holness claimed her company had an annual payroll of more than $1.4 million dollars.
“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.
In the days following REDBROWARD exposing her massive PPP loan, Damara Holness conspired with others to hide the true nature of Holness Consulting, Inc.
According to the US Attorney, between July 2020 and September 2020, Holness “began issuing checks to persons in order to make it appear as if Holness Consulting had full-time employees and was complying with the conditions of the PPP loan.”
The charging information states, “At the direction of HOLNESS, the persons receiving the checks endorsed the checks and returned the checks to defendant HOLNESS.”
US Attorney Kaplan states Damara Holness cashed the checks and “gave a few hundred dollars to the person to whom the check was issued, and kept the remaining amount of approximately $1,000 per check.”
In addition to the felony charge, Damara Holness faces property forfeiture proceedings in federal court.
Holness was released on a $100,000 bond.