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Joe Harding indicted on wire fraud, cash laundering expenses – Florida Politics

A federal grand jury has indicted Republican Rep. Joe Harding of Home District 24 on six felony counts, together with cash laundering and wire fraud, the U.S. Division of Justice announced Wednesday.

The indictment alleges that between Dec. 1, 2020 and March 1, 2021, Harding dedicated two acts of wire fraud via a scheme to defraud the Small Enterprise Administration (SBA) and by acquiring COVID-19-related small enterprise loans via false and fraudulent pretenses.

It alleges he made fraudulent functions for Small Enterprise Administration Financial Damage Catastrophe Loans, together with by using the names of dormant companies. It additionally alleges Harding obtained fraudulently created financial institution statements for one of many dormant companies, used as supporting documentation for one of many mortgage functions.

“By this conduct, the indictment alleges that Harding fraudulently obtained and tried to acquire greater than $150,000 in funds from the SBA to which he was not entitled,” a U.S. Division of Justice wrote in a press launch.

“Harding can also be charged with two counts of participating in financial transactions with funds derived from illegal exercise associated to his switch of the fraudulently obtained (Financial Damage Catastrophe Mortgage) proceeds into two financial institution accounts, and two counts of creating false statements to the SBA.”

In a late Wednesday assertion, Harding stated he’s preventing the costs.

“At this time, I pleaded not responsible to federal expenses that state I improperly obtained and used an EIDL mortgage issued by the Small Enterprise Administration. I would like the general public and my constituents to know that I totally repaid the mortgage and cooperated with investigators as requested,” Harding stated.

“On recommendation from counsel, I can be unable to say something extra particular concerning the authorized proceedings till a later date and refer any questions or issues associated to this matter to my legal professional. I ask that you just hold me and my household in your prayers as we work for a good and simply decision. Thanks, and my God bless you.”

A trial for Harding is ready for Jan. 11, 2023 at 8:30 a.m. on the U.S. Courthouse in Gainesville. United States District Decide Allen Winsor will preside.

If convicted, Harding faces as much as 20 years in jail for wire fraud, as much as 10 years for cash laundering and as much as 5 years for making false statements.

In accordance with Gary Fineout of POLITICO, Harding has already been launched on bond, and the federal government didn’t look to detain Harding.

The indictment, the DOJ notes, just isn’t proof of guilt, which can be decided at trial. However Harding has already misplaced his committee assignments for the upcoming legislative time period.

“After session with Consultant Harding relating to his indictment, I’m briefly eradicating him from his committee assignments to permit him time to concentrate on this matter,” Speaker Paul Renner stated Wednesday in a written assertion.

“In America we adhere to the rule of legislation, and as such, Consultant Harding is presumed harmless and may have the chance to plead his case earlier than a court docket. For the reason that indictment doesn’t relate to any side of his legislative duties, any additional questions ought to be directed to his authorized counsel.”

The Governor can not take away a lawmaker from workplace, even when arrested. The Florida Structure states that “every home shall be the only decide of the {qualifications}” of members. To expel a lawmaker, every chamber wants a two-thirds majority vote.

The indictment comes after a joint investigation from the FBI, the Inner Income Service-Prison Investigation, the Federal Deposit Insurance coverage Company, the Workplace of Inspector Basic and the SBA Workplace of Inspector Basic.

Assistant United States Attorneys David Byron and Justin Eager are prosecuting the case.

Harding was first elected to the Home in 2020 and subsequently re-elected this yr, representing a portion of Marion County.

The Republican lawmaker is best known for sponsoring House Bill 1557, the Parental Rights in Training laws which critics have labeled the “Don’t Say Homosexual” legislation. The Republican-led Legislature handed the invoice this yr and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it. It took impact July 1.

“These are severe allegations of corruption,” Equality Florida Government Director Nadine Smith stated in response to the indictment. “The courts will kind via that sordid mess however we all know he’s made many false statements concerning the LGBTQ neighborhood. Florida dad and mom are pressured to navigate faculties which can be much less secure for his or her youngsters as a result of Joe Harding’s political ambitions know no bounds.”

Harding’s indictment follows a September responsible plea from his brother-in-law, Patrick Walsh. As reported by Fresh Take Florida, Walsh pleaded responsible to wire fraud and cash laundering expenses related to his receipt of almost $8 million in catastrophe aid loans.

Walsh, a world blimp magnate, had used the cash on a sequence of land buys, together with the acquisition of a personal island within the Gulf of Mexico close to Yankeetown. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on the finish of January.

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