Lawmaker within the support of Florida’s ‘Don’t Dispute Homosexual’ law is accused of Covid-reduction fraud
The Florida legislator who sponsored rules critics dubbed the “Don’t Dispute Homosexual” invoice turned into once accused of illegally acquiring tens of thousands of bucks in Covid-reduction funds, authorities stated Wednesday.
Joseph Harding, 35, turned into once indicted on six counts of wire fraud, cash laundering, making false statements and other crimes, the U.S. felony skilled’s place of job for Northern Florida stated in a originate.
Harding, a Republican whose district is south of Gainesville, is accused of looking out for Covid-reduction loans from the Minute Business Administration in 2020 for two companies, Vak Shack Inc. and Harding Farms, consistent with the indictment.
The indictment alleges that in functions to the agency, Harding stated the companies had half of a dozen workers and sinful revenues from the old 365 days totaling more than $800,000.
The companies had no workers, and insist data confirmed they had been dormant within the months sooner than the functions were filed, the indictment says.
Harding sought more than $150,000 in loans and bought roughly $45,000 in January and February 2021, consistent with the indictment.
Harding pleaded no longer guilty to the prices in court docket Wednesday, court docket data repeat. Neither he nor his felony skilled without lengthen replied to requests for comment.
Harding, a dwelling health care govt first elected in 2020, is identified for having introduced a invoice that prohibited college room dialogue of sexual orientation or gender identification within the insist’s important faculties.
The invoice, which Harding stated turned into once aimed at “empowering fogeys” and rising boundaries to hunt out out “what’s appropriate in our faculties,” turned into once signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in March and went into attain over the summer season.
Critics blasted the invoice, describing it as an attack on the insist’s LGBTQ neighborhood and pronouncing it is going to initiating districts as a lot as lawsuits from fogeys upset about any LGBTQ-connected dialog.
“This invoice goes well beyond the textual teach material on its page,” stale Ranking. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democrat who’s cheerful, stated in February. “It sends a terrible message to our early life that there is one thing so wrong, so tainted, so unhealthy about this topic that we must in any respect times censor it from college room instruction.”
Harding’s trial is scheduled to initiating up Jan. 11. He would possibly possibly well face twenty years in penal advanced for the fraud prices, 10 years for cash laundering and 5 years for making false assertion, the originate says.
Tim Stelloh is a breaking news reporter for NBC Data Digital.