Holness’ daughter appears in court to plead guilty in pandemic aid fraud case

The daughter of Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness appears in federal court on Wednesday to plead guilty in a coronavirus pandemic aid fraud case.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The 29-year-old daughter of a Broward County commissioner who is running for U.S. Congress appeared in federal court on Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale after primary election day.

Just as poll workers in Palm Beach and Broward counties continued counting votes, the daughter of Commissioner Dale Holness changed her plea in the conspiracy to commit wire fraud case to guilty.

Damara Holness is facing federal charges in a June 2020 fraud case related to federal aid that was meant to help reduce unemployment and keep small businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal prosecutors accused Damara Holness of lying in her U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program application for a $300,000 loan for Holness Consulting.

According to prosecutors, Damara Holness claimed she employed 18 people and had a $120,000 monthly payroll expense. FBI agents reported she recruited people to lie in exchange for a $300 payment and submitted fraudulent payroll tax forms.

She incorporated Holness Consulting in 2018 after her father served as Lauderhill vice-mayor and before he served as Broward’s vice-mayor and mayor. She is also the former president of the Broward County Democratic Black Caucus.

The stolen funds were part of the federal CARES Act, which included up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses.

Damara Holness could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick M. Hunt is at 1 p.m. on Jan. 20.

About the Authors:

Joseph Ojo joined Local 10 in April 2021. Born and raised in New York City, he previously worked in Buffalo, North Dakota, Fort Myers and Baltimore.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.