Omar Miguel Smith, a longtime political operative of former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, was sentenced to fifteen months in prison by a Federal Judge on Wednesday. In July, Smith was charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud related to COVID-19 relief loans. REDBROWARD broke the news on the suspicious Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan Smith received in 2021 for Smith’s single person company, A Star For I, Inc.
Smith received $212,500 in COVID relief after claiming he had more than twenty employees.
According to court records, Smith lied to FBI agents when he claimed he got the idea for obtaining the loan at a local Caribbean restaurant. In fact, Smith was assisted by Sophia A. Nelson, a political consultant and former commission aide to Dale Holness.
Court records show Smith repaid the money after his meeting with FBI agents even though he spent all but $6,000 of the money. Smith told agents he raised the money from friends and family.
Smith told FBI agents that Dale Holness told him not to get a PPP loan.
Holness’ daughter Damara Holness remains in Federal prison on charges related to PPP loan fraud.
REDBROWARD broke the news how Damara Holness received a $300,000 PPP loan for her single person corporation by claiming to have numerous employees.
Omar Smith will face two years probation following the completion of his prison term.
Heres the press release from the US Attorneys Office:
MIAMI—Omar Smith, 42, of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., who has worked on South Florida political campaigns, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison and two years of supervised release for lying on a coronavirus relief loan application and fraudulently obtaining hundreds of thousands of dollars intended to help small businesses financially survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the information to which he pled guilty, in June 2020, Smith applied for a $212,500 forgivable, federally guaranteed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan on behalf of A Star For I Inc., a Florida company he owned. To justify the requested loan amount, Smith claimed in the on-line loan application, and through supporting fraudulent payroll tax forms, that his company employed 30 people and spent an average of $85,000 each month on payroll. In fact, A Star For I Inc had zero employees and no payroll expenses. A bank in Utah approved A Star For I Inc.’s PPP loan application based on the lies and wired $212,500 to the company’s bank account in Florida.
Once the money hit the bank account in July 2020, Smith spent the next few months creating a paper trail to make it appear as if A Star For I Inc. had employees and was spending the PPP money on legitimate, approved expenses. Smith issued checks from the company bank account made out to others who did little or no work for A Star For I Inc.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and acting Special Agent in Charge Robert M, Dewitt, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
FBI, Miami Field Office, investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Kaplan prosecuted it.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal law designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who suffered financially from the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of hundreds of billions of dollars in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses through the PPP.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud. It does this by augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts.