Federal prosecutors charged Omar Miguel Smith with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud to fraudulently obtain a PPP Covid-19 relief loan on Monday. Smith is former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness’ campaign guru. In 2020, REDBROWARD was first to expose Smith’s controversial $300,000 PPP loan for his marketing company A Star For I.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, on his application for a $212,500 forgivable, federally-guaranteed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan on behalf of A Star For I, Inc., “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 Utah bank 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.”
Prosecutors alleged that after the money was deposited in July 2020, Omar Smith “spent the next few months creating a paper trail to make it appear as if A Star For I, Inc. in fact had employees and was spending the PPP money on legitimate, approved expenses.” According to the information, Smith issued checks from the company bank account made out to others who did little or no work for his company.
The U.S. Attorney charged Omar Smith with conspiring to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. If convicted, Smith faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
Last month, Damara Holness, daughter of Dale Holness, started a lengthy prison sentence in Mariana, Florida for PPP loan fraud. Like Smith, Damara Holness was accused of making up employees and writing checks to accomplices to hide her fraud. According to authorities, Holness never returned more than $180,000 in cash.
REDBROWARD has documented Omar Smith’s extensive role in Dale Holness’ political campaigns and the campaign of Holness’ political allies. REDBROWARD was first to expose Omar Smith’s role in creating shady political action committees supporting Holness and his allies. The committees include the Federal political committee known as “People of Principle.”
Two Broward County government employees were paid big bucks for work on Dale Holness’ failed bid for U.S. Congress, Federal records show. Anthony Bonamy and Justin Porter served as commission aides for Dale Holness. While performing duties as taxpayer paid commission aides, companies tied to both men were paid by the Holness campaign.
ONE MILLENNIAL MEDIA
Last year, REDBROWARD detailed Anthony Bonamy’s ties to Dale Holness and his close ally Tamarac Commissioner Marlon Bolton.
REDBROWARD revealed Bonamy created “Tamarac Post Media LLC” in July 2020. Weeks later the fake news Tamarac Post website was launched as “your source for local news, politics, entertainment, music, and fashion. We provide you with the latest breaking news and updates.” In reality, when the Tamarac Post isn’t posting news releases from the City of Tamarac public information department, it’s offering anonymous puff pieces about Dale Holness and Marlon Bolton.
REDBROWARD asked Anthony Bonamy why his company was behind a website shilling for a Tamarac politicians. While Bonamy claimed he did not “run” the website, he did admit he owned the website domain. Bonamy claimed he did not know who posted articles on the website. He said his wife was set to take over posting duties in April.
In April 2021, Bonamy was fired from his position as deputy clerk for the City of North Lauderdale after REDBROWARD exposed his ties to the Tamarac Post website.
On May 1, 2021, Tamarac Post Media LLC advised the State Of Florida that its new managing member was One Millenial Media LLC of Tamarac. Formed in November 2020, One Millenial Media LLC is managed by Violene Vil, the wife of Anthony Bonamy.
On May 27, 2021 REDBROWARD reported Bonamy had been hired as Dale Holness’ commission aide.
According to reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), the Dale Holness for Congress campaign made eight payments to One Millenial Media LLC. The payments were for media production, community outreach, communications strategies, consulting on phone banking and canvassing. The Holness campaign paid $9,245 to the company owned by his commission aide’s wife.
On June 3, 2021 Justin Porter of Pembroke Pines filed documents forming Primetime Strategies LLC. According to his social media accounts, Justin Porter worked for Commissioner Dale Holness for more than two years. From November 2019 to November 2020, Porter served as Holness’ “VIP Intern/Political Consultant.” Porter became Holness’ commission aide in December 2020. County campaign reports show Porter was paid $3,300 for work on Holness’ 2020 re-election campaign.
Just one month after forming Primetime Strategies, it received the first of fifteen payments from the Dale Holness for Congress campaign. The Holness campaign paid $37,281 to Porter’s brand new company for consulting fees, campaign operations and data management.
Primetime Strategies received multiple monthly payments between July 2021 and December 2021.
These totals may climb when the Holness for Congress campaign files new reports with the FEC.
This would not be the first time Dale Holness handsomely overpaid close associates for campaign work.
WHERE IS OMAR SMITH?
REDBROWARD has documented the close relationship between Dale Holness and his campaign guru Omar Smith.
Over the last decade, Holness paid tens of thousands of dollars to Omar Smith and his companies—A Star For I and Flyer Smith. Omar Smith operated several questionable political committees which promoted Dale Holness and his allies. Holness, Smith and Holness’ daughter Damara Holness were key components of Andrew Gillum’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign.
Yet, despite their longtime working relationship, Omar Smith was missing from Holness’ FEC reports. What happened?
REDBROWARD reported one of Omar Smith’s companies received a $212,000 Pandemic Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to save thirty jobs. In September 2021, REDBROWARD exposed Omar Smith’s A Star For I, Inc. company received a PPP loan despite collecting payments from Dale Holness and his allies during the COVID-19 lockdown. At the time, it appeared Smith applied for a PPP loan as a sole proprietor. Political insiders doubt Omar Smith’s company ever had a payroll with thirty employees.
Last August, REDBROWARD exposed Damara Holness’ laughable claim she owned a company with eighteen employees and a $1.4 million dollar payroll. Damara Holness used Dale Holness’ business address to obtain a $300,000 PPP loan.
Days later, REDBROWARD exposed how Richelle Holness, another daughter of Dale Holness, also received a PPP loan. Like Damara, Richelle Holness appears to be heavily involved in Dale Holness’ political operations. When REDBROWARD revealed Richelle Holness’ ties to a shadowy political committee, Omar Smith reached out to REDBROWARD to ask for a favor. With a female screaming in the background, Smith asked REDBROWARD TO redacte the name of Dale Holness’ ex-wife from the story.
In January 2022, Damara Holness was sentenced to twenty-months in prison after pleading guilty to fraud related to the PPP loan. Despite her claim of cooperating with authorities, the U.S. Attorney stated Damara Holness never revealed the whereabouts of $181,000 in cash from her PPP loan scheme.
Though he lost the congressional race to Sheila Cherfilus McCormick, Dale Holness will try to unseat her in November.
At least his consultants won’t be on the public payroll this time. Well, let’s just wait and see on that one.