Tag Archives: A Better Florida For All

CONSPIRACY: Charging Docs List “Co-Conspirators,” May Signal Omar Smith’s Cooperation In Ongoing Federal Investigations

Omar Smith

Federal prosecutors allege Omar Miguel Smith, Dale Holness’ longtime campaign guru, had help in his conspiracy to fraudulently obtain a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) COVID-19 relief loan, charging documents show. These same documents may signal that Smith is cooperating with Federal authorities in ongoing investigations. On Monday, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida charged Smith with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. If convicted, Smith faces up to thirty years in Federal prison.

In charging documents filed in U.S. Federal Court, prosecutors allege “co-conspirators” assisted Omar Smith in fraudulently obtaining a $215,500 PPP loan for his Florida company A Star For I, Inc. in June 2020. Prosecutors allege Smith agreed to pay 20% of the PPP loan to a co-conspirator for help obtaining the loan. On June 1, 2020 Omar Smith submitted an online loan application prepared by his co-conspirator.

According to the U.S. Attorney, “the loan application falsely stated that A Star For I had 30 employees and had an average monthly payroll of $85,000 a month.” To support these bogus claims, Smith submitted false IRS documents prepared by his co-conspirator that “falsely stated that in the first quarter of 2019 A Star For I paid wages of $255,000 and had withheld from those wages federal income tax of $24,040, social security tax of $31,620, and Medicare tax of $7,395.”

The PPP loan was approved one day later and $215,500 was transferred to the A Star For I bank account. Prosecutors state Smith transferred $42,500 to his co-conspirator on June 10, 2020 as payment for obtaining the PPP loan.

Between June 2020 and October 2020, Federal prosecutors allege Omar Smith “began issuing checks to persons in order to make it appear as if A Star For I had full-time employees and was complying with the conditions of the PPP loan.” Prosecutors claim “the persons receiving the checks did little, if any, work for A Star For I.”

Prosecutors have not named Smith’s co-conspirators.

REDBROWARD was first to report on Omar Smith’s suspect PPP loan in August 2020.

During the same time period, REDBROWARD exposed a similar suspect PPP loan obtained by Damara Holness, daughter of former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness.

Like Smith, Damara Holness used false documents to claim her Florida company employed workers with a hefty payroll when in reality, Holness Consulting Inc. had no employees. Using false payroll records, Damara Holness fraudulently obtained a $300,000 PPP loan.

Also like Omar Smith, Damara Holness wrote checks to associates who cashed the checks and returned the majority of the money to Holness. Prosecutors alleged Holness used dozens of people in this scheme. Last month, Damara Holness started a 20 month prison sentence in Mariana, Florida.

WAIVER OF INDICTMENT

Included in the charging documents filed Monday is a “waiver of indictment” which reads:

I understand that I have been accused of one or more offenses punishable by imprisonment for more than one year. I was advised in open court of my rights and the nature of the proposed charges against me.

After receiving this advice, I waive my right to prosecution by indictment and consent to prosecution by information.

In cases where punishment may be longer than one year, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure require a defendant be indicted by a grand jury. According to Federal criminal defense lawyers, Prosecutors may ask a defendant to waive the indictment requirement as part of a plea agreement which includes defendant’s cooperation in building cases against co-conspirators or other potential defendants.

It is unclear if Omar Smith is co-operating with Federal authorities. Damara Holness signed a similar waiver but a year later, prosecutors told a Federal Judge that Holness never co-operated and never revealed the whereabouts of $181,000 in cash.

Unlike Damara Holness, Omar Smith may have information that goes beyond PPP loan fraud.

As REDBROWARD documented for nearly ten years, Omar Smith played a major role in Dale Holness campaign operations. Smith helped form numerous controversial political action committees which aided Holness and his political allies. Smith used committees and other electoral processes to collect votes for Dale Holness and other favored candidates. Holness and Smith played key roles in the 2020 election which saw victories by Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, Broward Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott, and others.

Additionally, sources tell REDBROWARD that Smith’s A Star For I company received large unapproved payments by a South Florida municipality for work he may not have performed. One source claims a city employee, who is Smith’s close, personal friend, arranged the payment.

More to come…

Tamarac Commissioner Debra Placko Paid $4,000 To Happy Feet Advertising “Owner” Days Before Fake Endorsement Card Hit The Polls In 2018

On October 7, 2018, Tamarac Commissioner Debra Placko paid $4,000 to Resident United Advertising LLC for a “campaign expense,” records show. State records show Resident United Advertising LLC was a Margate company owned by Trace Robinson. Over the last year, REDBROWARD exposed the deep ties between Tamarac Commissioner Marlon Bolton and another Margate-based company owned by Trace Robinson. And Debra Placko never said a word.

In addition to Resident United Advertising LLC, State records show Trace Robinson also owns Happy Feet Advertising LLC. Both companies are located at 300 Lakewood Circle in Margate. While the business paperwork shows the Margate address, the mailing address for Happy Feet Advertising is listed as P.O. Box 451711 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33345.

State records also show businesses owned by Marlon Bolton use the same post office box.

MATCHING MAILBOXES

Florida business records show the post office box address used by Happy Feet Advertising has been used by Marlon Bolton since at least 2014. These businesses include Tyson Bolton and Associates, Forecast Holdings, LLC, Prophet Fire, and Win Without War. These same records show Marlon Bolton and Trace Robinson are business partners.

Records list Marlon Bolton and Trace Robinson as owners of The Driven Project, Praise Experience Worldwide Outreach Church, and South Florida Theological Seminary, Inc. The companies also use the same post office box.

In 2020, Trace Robinson created the Broward Vision PAC political committee. The address for the PAC is the same post office box used by Bolton.

State of Florida campaign records show Broward Vision PAC paid $1,400 to Exy Consultants, a corporation created under the Happy Feet Advertising LLC name by Robinson. Exy Consultants used the same P.O. Box 451711 address as Marlon Bolton.

According to his campaign reports, Commissioner Bolton provided Happy Feet Advertising with a huge payday—nearly $14,000 during the 2020 election cycle.

In April 2021, REDBROWARD exposed the roles Bolton and Happy Feet Advertising played in the election of North Lauderdale Commissioner Regina Martin. Campaign records show Happy Feet Advertising, LLC performed extensive campaign work for the newly-elected Martin.

Last month, REDBROWARD revealed State House candidate Elijah Manley paid Happy Feet Advertising LLC $2,800 for “monetary” work on his January campaign.

MYSTERY PACS

REDBROWARD exposed Marlon Bolton’s ties to Residents United PAC, a State of Florida political committee. Elections records show the committee was formed in April 2019 by chairman Carl Williams and treasurer Malucci Joseph. Both individuals are close associates of Marlon Bolton.

Carl Williams was a Bolton appointee to the City of Tamarac parks & recreation committee. REDBROWARD obtained videos showing Williams assisting Bolton during church services at the Praise Experience Worldwide Outreach Church in North Lauderdale.

On the very same day he created Residents United PAC, Carl Williams created the “Go Tamarac Go PAC.” The only money listed in the Go Tamarac Go reports is a $1,750 contribution by the PAC’s treasurer Malucci Joseph.

In addition to her roles in Go Tamarac Go PAC and Residents United PAC, Malucci Joseph is the chairperson and treasurer of the Tallahassee based Conservative Governance PAC. Joseph also formed the Federal “Our Blue Democracy” committee using the same Tallahassee address.

This week, REDBROWARD attempted to contact Malucci Joseph at the Tallahassee telephone number for the committees. Instead on Joseph, Marlon Bolton answered the telephone.

PLACKO “FOR A BETTER FLORIDA FOR ALL?”

In January 2018, REDBROWARD exposed the roles former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness and his campaign guru, Omar Smith played in Fort Lauderdale Mayoral race.

City of Fort Lauderdale campaign records from December 2017 show Dean Trantalis’ mayoral campaign hired Sophia Nelson, another consultant closely tied to Commissioner Dale Holness, and her SA Nelson And Associates firm for “marketing” purposes.

Florida Division Of Elections records show Sophia A. Nelson is the chairperson of the “A Better Florida For All” political committee. The address for this political committee is the same address found on a December pro-Trantalis email sent to Fort Lauderdale voters by “FlyerSmith,” a company owned by Omar Smith.

Division of Elections records show Omar Smith is the treasurer of the “A Better Florida For All” political committee.

In October 2018, Buddy Nevins of Broward Beat reported on four local judicial candidates appearing the endorsement card produced by A Better Florida For All. The card promoted Democrat candidates most notably Andrew Gillum. Nevins wrote, “Four Broward lawyers running for judge could end up in trouble for appearing to violate state Code of Ethics for judicial candidates. Partisan appeals judicial candidates’ ads are forbidden by the Florida Supreme Court Code of Judicial Conduct. Joint advertising by judicial candidates is also prohibited.”

Shortly thereafter, the State of Florida revoked the registration of A Better Florida For All. Smith failed to properly submit paper to the Florida Division Of Elections. Attempts to contact Smith failed.

Since the committee is no longer a legal entity, legal steps were made to keep the card from being distributed to voters. In Late October 2018, (now Judge) Corey Cawthon filed an emergency motion against A Better Florida All over its inappropriate endorsement card. A judge granted the motion and ordered the card removed from polling locations.

Omar Smith told to the Sun-Sentinel “that none of the candidates were picked because of financial ties to the political action committee or to any of Smith’s businesses, which perform campaign services.”

A copy of the A Better Florida For All card was included in Cawthon’s emergency lawsuit. One of the candidates prominently displayed is Tamarac Commissioner Debra Placko.

Placko is pictured alongside Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin and Elvin Villalobos. Both Gelin and Villalobos enjoyed the support of Marlon Bolton.

Is timing of Placko’s $4,000 payment to Resident United Advertising LLC and her inclusion on the For Better Florida For All endorsement card in October 2018 a mere coincidence?

Last year, REDBROWARD reported how a bombshell report commissioned by the City of Tamarac Human Resources Department in 2019 revealed a pattern of “bullying” of City employees by Commissioner Marlon Bolton. The report documents several instances of Bolton attacking political opponents by using their race, ethnicity and religion.

Fire Captain William Duesler told investigators Bolton told a voter Mayor Michelle Gomez was a “White Jew–Don’t vote for her.” Another complaint heard Marlon Bolton tell a voter, “Gomez can’t even speak Spanish…and that she is a White Jew.”

In the same report, Mayor Gomez told investigators, “that Commissioner Bolton misappropriated the City’s name and/or logo for purely political purposes. She asserts that he utilized the City’s name and/or logo in a political advertisement for Residents United…with its membership base being members of Commissioner Bolton’s church congregation.

Didn’t Commissioner Debra Placko recognize the “Residents United” name? Just a year earlier she paid $4,000 to Resident United Advertising LLC. That’s not chump change.

Did Debra Placko confirm Mayor Gomez’s allegations to investigators?

Why did Debra Placko pay $4,000 to Resident United Advertising LLC?

Why did Debra Placko say nothing as Happy Feet Advertising and The Tamarac Post were used to bash her fellow commissioners?

Some Tamarac residents have wondered why Debra Placko has not criticized Marlon Bolton’s behavior on the dais. Placko bemoans the rancor yet she stands by in silence as Bolton attacks Gomez and Villalobos.

Perhaps she’s afraid residents will learn about her alliance with Bolton’s team?

REDBROWARD reached out to Debra Placko for answers. She has not responded.

Broward Supervisor Of Elections Joe Scott Paid Big Bucks For Help From Cronies Of Marlon Bolton & Dale Holness

Broward Supervisor Of Elections Joe Scott and Dale Holness
Dale Holness & Omar Smith

Broward Supervisor Of Elections Joe Scott won his election with the help of political operatives tied to Tamarac Commissioner Marlon Bolton (D-Bully) and Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, records show. Earlier, REDBROWARD revealed a November 2020 video of Joe Scott telling members of the Praise Experience Worldwide Outreach church that he would not have won his race without the help of his “brother” Marlon Bolton. Now, it appears Scott had help from the political team of Bolton’s mentor, Dale Holness.

Campaign records show Joe Scott received numerous contributions of members of Team Dale Holness. Miramar Commissioner Yvette Colburne gave $350 to the Scott campaign. Tamarac Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin gave $250 to the cause. Forecast Holdings LLC, a company owned and operated by Marlon Bolton, gave $500 to the new Supervisor of Elections.

In January 2020, Joe Scott received a $500 contribution from the “advertising agency” known as Happy Feet Advertising.

In March 2021, REDBROWARD exposed Marlon Bolton’s close ties to Happy Feet Advertising.

HAPPY FEET

Happy Feet Advertising LLC is owned by Trace N. Robinson of Margate. The mailing address for Happy Feet Advertising is listed as P.O. Box 451711 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33345.

State business records also show numerous companies owned by Marlon Bolton use the same post office box.

Florida business records show the same post office box address was used by Marlon Bolton since at least 2014. These businesses include Tyson Bolton and Associates, Forecast Holdings, LLC, Prophet Fire, and Win Without War. These same records show Marlon Bolton and Trace Robinson are business partners.

Records list Marlon Bolton and Trace Robinson as owners of The Driven Project, Praise Experience Worldwide Outreach Church, and South Florida Theological Seminary, Inc. The companies also use the same post office box.

Last year, Trace Robinson created the Broward Vision PAC political committee. The address for the PAC is the same post office box used by Bolton.

State of Florida campaign records show Broward Vision PAC paid $1,400 to Exy Consultants, a corporation created under the Happy Feet Advertising LLC name by Robinson. Exy Consultants used the same P.O. Box 451711 address as Marlon Bolton.

According to Tamarac campaign reports, Commissioner Marlon Bolton provided Happy Feet Advertising with its biggest payday. Reports show Bolton paid tens of thousands of dollars to Happy Feet Advertising during the 2020 election cycle.

REDBROWARD also revealed North Lauderdale Commissioner Regina Martin paid Happy Feet Advertising during her 2020 campaign. Campaign treasurer reports show Martin paid $14,750 to Happy Feet during the 2020 election cycle.

Bolton and Martin refused to answer questions regarding Happy Feet Advertising.

Campaign records show Joe Scott paid $2,000 to Happy Feet Advertising in July 2020.

Was this the “help” Joe Scott referred to at the Praise Experience Worldwide Outreach Church event?

OMAR SMITH & THE SHADY PACS

Records show Joe Scott paid for the services of Dale Holness’ highly controversial “campaign guru.” During the 2020 election cycle paid nearly $11,000 to “Flyer Smith,” a company owned by Omar Smith. Longtime REDBROWARD readers know Omar Smith’s role in numerous shady political committees which support Dale Holness and his allies.

Joe Scott paid $13,100 to Murry Robinson, another Dale Holness political operative.

In October 2018, REDBROWARD exposed how Omar Smith and Murry Robinson played major roles with the shady A Better Florida For All political committee.

Florida Division of Elections records listed Omar Smith as the treasurer of the “A Better Florida For All” political committee. Murry Robinson was featured on The A Better Florida For All website as the group’s political director. Fundraising events for the A Better Florida For All committee were held at Dale Holness’ real estate office in Plantation.

But, like most pro-Dale Holness political committees, A Better Florida For All had trouble following Florida elections laws.

In October 2018, Broward Beat wrote how four local judicial candidates appeared on an endorsement card produced by A Better Florida For All. The card promoted Democrat candidates most notably Andrew Gillum. Nevins wrote, “Four Broward lawyers running for judge could end up in trouble for appearing to violate state Code of Ethics for judicial candidates. Partisan appeals judicial candidates’ ads are forbidden by the Florida Supreme Court Code of Judicial Conduct. Joint advertising by judicial candidates is also prohibited.”

Omar Smith spoke to the Sun-Sentinel about the palm card controversy. Smith “insisted this week that none of the candidates were picked because of financial ties to the political action committee or to any of Smith’s businesses, which perform campaign services.”

“Those payments had nothing to do with his appearance on that flier,” Smith said.

In October 2018, the State of Florida revoked the registration of A Better Florida For All. Omar Smith failed to properly submit paperwork to the Florida Division Of Elections.

Since the committee was no longer a legal entity, legal steps were made to keep the card from being distributed to voters.

Broward Beat reported, “Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness and two Sunrise candidates have been threatened with legal action if they continue to distribute a phony endorsement card from a non-existing group.”

A Better Florida For All was not the only shady political committee tied to Dale Holness and Omar Smith.

PEOPLE OF PRINCIPLE?

In July 2018, REDBROWARD exposed Dale Holness’ ties to People of Principle PAC, a federal super PAC.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show People of Principle PAC was created by Charmalin Brown in January 2019. Brown used the address of a Margate UPS store as the headquarters for the political committee. In April 2019, Charmalin Brown purchased the domain name currently used by People Of Principle PAC.

State corporation records show Charmalin Brown, a tax preparer, started a business in 2006 using Omar Smith as her registered agent. Brown used a home on the 300 block of Berenger Walk in Royal Palm Beach as her business address. Numerous records show Omar Smith uses the same Berenger Walk address.

REDBROWARD called the telephone number listed on the People Of Principle PAC website. Omar Smith answered the telephone.

When asked why the committee did not file the legally required financial reports, Smith said, “Uh…not the treasurer. I just happened to answer the phone.” Smith would not reveal where the committee office was located. He said he has nothing to do with the People of Principle PAC. But he did admit to being behind the A Better Florida For All Committee.

When asked why he was in the People Of Principle offices, Smith said he was asked to answer the telephones. Smith would not say who asked him to answer the telephone calls.

Smith would not reveal if he works for any other candidates, besides Dale Holness, appearing on the People of Principle PAC materials.

Asked about any work for the People of Principle PAC, Smith said he “gave up the website” as an in-kind contribution. Smith would not reveal who he gave control over to.

When asked why he would not answer simple questions about his role or Dale Holness’ role in these materials, Smith said the People Of Principle PAC has “nothing to do with Mr. Holness.”

Five days after REDBROWARD exposed the close ties between People of Principle PAC and Dale Holness, individuals tied to Holness started the Stronger Together Florida political committee.

On July 20, 2020, Kayla Butler filed paperwork forming the Stronger Together Florida political with the Division of Elections in Tallahassee. According to the documents, the political committee is located at home on Barnstead Circle in Lake Worth, Florida. The telephone number for the committee is (754) 444-6117.

Campaign reports from the 2016 Broward election show Kayla Butler was a paid intern on the Dale Holness campaign even though she was living in Palm Beach. According to recent social media posts, Butler is a yoga instructor still living in Palm Beach county.

The telephone number for Stronger Together Florida is also found in State records regarding third party groups conducting voter registrations. The number is listed for “All Consulting And Marketing, Inc.” which conducted voter registration drives at 4325 W. Sunrise Blvd in Plantation since May, 2019.

This is the same address for All Broward Realty, Inc, a real estate company owned by Broward Mayor Dale Holness.

According to the State third party voter registration records and State corporate records, All Consulting And Marketing Inc. is owned by Richelle Holness, the daughter of Broward Mayor Dale Holness. State corporate records indicate the corporation was dissolved in September 2019 after failing to file its required corporate report.

State license records show Richelle Holness is a licensed real estate agent at All Broward Realty.

Broward election records listed Richelle Holness as the treasurer for Broward Mayor Dale Holness’ 2020 campaign.

On September 8, 2020, the Florida Division of Elections sent a “failure to file” letter to Butler after Stronger Together Florida failed to provide financial information regarding its activities.

BIG DONORS

In January, REDBROWARD reported how the People of Principle PAC solicited contributions from donors of Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony. These funds were allegedly used to support the late Congressman Alcee Hastings.

Did Joe Scott or his supporters help fund any of these shady political committees?

Is it possible Broward’s newest Supervisor of Elections got elected with the help of these shady political committees?

Isn’t this the total opposite of what a guy running Broward elections should do?

Say it ain’t so, Joe!