Republican lawmaker Joe Harding charged for fraud, laundering
Harding is charged with two counts of wire fraud, two counts of making false statements, and two counts of money laundering.
A Republican state lawmaker from Florida, Joe Harding, was charged with defrauding a federal loan program designed to help small businesses during COVID-19, according to federal officials on Wednesday.
Harding illegally obtained - or at least tried to obtain - over $150,000 in pandemic loans from the Small Business Administration for two corporate bodies that have been keeping on the low until he applied for the funds, according to a six-count federal indictment documentation.
The two corporate entities that Harding has filled out fraudulent applications for are Vak Shack Inc and Harding Farms LLC, according to the indictment.
He was charged with two counts of wire fraud, two counts of making false statements, and two counts of money laundering.
Harding, who was first elected in 2020, pleaded not guilty during a court session on Wednesday. He was then released on bond, and a trial for his crimes is scheduled for January 11.
“I want the public and my constituents to know that I fully repaid the loan and cooperated with investigators as requested,” he said.
More than 1,500 people have been charged with defrauding pandemic programs as of recent, and over 450 have been convicted by federal authorities.