Florida Political Consultant Charged With Defrauding COVID-19 Relief Program

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.
August 20, 2021 Updated: August 20, 2021

A political consultant in Florida who once served as president of the Broward County Democratic Black Caucus was charged this week with lying on a COVID-19 relief loan application and fraudulently obtaining $300,000 as a result.

Damara Holness, 28, of Fort Lauderdale, was charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud. According to court documents, Holness submitted in June 2020 a Payment Protection Program loan application online to an Atlanta-based bank.

Holness is accused of falsely stating that her company, Holness Consulting, had 18 employees and an average monthly payroll of $120,000 a month.

The bank several days later approved the loan, based on the false information provided.

From July through September, Holness allegedly began issuing checks to various people to make it appear as if she were paying full-time employees. But the people, at the direction of Holness, returned the checks to the defendant after endorsing them, authorities say.

Holness would then cash the checks, giving several hundred dollars to each fake employee and keeping the rest herself.

Holness faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted and a fine of up to $250,000.

She was released from custody after being charged on a $100,000 personal surety bond.

The FBI investigated the case.

A lawyer representing Holness, the former president of the Broward County Democratic Black Caucus, told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that her client is a single mother “who despite having a high profile parent has had to chart her own path personally and professionally” and noted that her client is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

“Despite a full investigation by the feds confirming no involvement by her father or his campaign; there has been an unexplained rush to complete and publicize this indictment. It is unfortunate that the timing of these allegations against my client has seemingly been synced to allow it to be folded into her father’s campaign for federal office,” the lawyer wrote.

“Ms. Holness maintains her confidence in the judicial process and we stand prepared to have these allegations against her fully and fairly addressed by the Courts at the appropriate time.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.