Florida lawmaker charged with Covid aid fraud 

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Credit : Google Image

Florida lawmakers charged by federal prosecutors announced  Wednesday the indictment of a Florida state representative who allegedly defrauded the Small Business Administration of thousands of dollars in coronavirus aid loans. 

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State Rep. Joseph Harding obtained more than $150,000 in SBA loans by lying on his loan applications, according to a news release from Justice. 

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Prosecutors allege that Harding listed fake companies in her statements, fabricated the number of people she employed and submitted falsified bank statements. 

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Harding, 35, is charged with bank fraud, money laundering and perjury, the DOJ said in a release. 

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Money laundering is punishable by a maximum  of 20 years in prison,  money laundering by 10 years and giving false statements by a maximum of 5 years in prison. 

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His trial is scheduled for January 11 in Gainesville, Florida. 

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Harding was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2020. According to his website, he continues to hold public office. 

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In a statement to  The New York Times, he said he  pleaded not guilty at his first court appearance on Wednesday. 

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"I want the public and my constituents to know that I have fully repaid the loan and cooperated with investigators as requested," Harding told the Times.

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