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Florida Whistleblower Lawyers > Blog > COVID 19 Fraud > Daughter Of Former South Florida Mayor Sentenced To Prison In COVID-19 Fraud Case

Daughter Of Former South Florida Mayor Sentenced To Prison In COVID-19 Fraud Case


On January 31st, 2022, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed that Damara Holness, the 29-year-old daughter of the former Mayor of Broward County, has been sentenced to 2 months in federal prison for her role in a COVID-19 related fraud scheme. In this article, our Florida COVID-19 fraud lawyers provide an overview of the allegations in this case and explain your rights and your options if you believe that you uncovered PPP fraud.

Allegations: Holness Obtained Fraudulent $300,000 PPP Loan 

As part of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, congress passed the CARES Act. Among other things, the federal legislation contained the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Through a PPP claim, qualifying businesses could obtain forgivable loans to cover payroll and other approved expenses during the depths of the initial COVID-19 economic fallout.

The DOJ alleges that Damara Holness of South Florida applied for and received a fraudulent $300,000 PPP loan in 2020. The funding was obtained on behalf of a company she owns and operates called Holness Consulting, Inc. On official federal government forms, she indicated that she employs 18 people and spends approximately $120,000 per month on payroll costs.

In reality, the federal government contends that the money was simply used for her personal expenses. The representations regarding her consulting firm’s payroll were fraudulent. For her role in the COVID-19 fraud scheme, Ms. Holness has been sentenced to 20 months in prison and ordered to pay the federal government $300,000 in financial restitution. 

Whistleblowers Help to Stop PPP Fraud (False Claims Act) 

The Paycheck Protection Program was a key part of the federal government’s COVID-19 response. It injected a significant amount of capital into businesses that were adversely affected by the public health and economic crisis. However, PPP fraud has been a significant issue. Some studies suggest that 15 percent of the multi-billion dollar program was claimed on fraudulent grounds. The federal government is largely relying on private party whistleblowers to report PPP fraud. The False Claims Act allows parties to report COVID-19 fraud (and other types of fraud). If successful enforcement action is taken, a whistleblower can claim a share of the government’s recovery. Here are three steps to take if you suspected COVID-19 fraud and want to take action:

  1. Document the fraud. Write down exactly what you believe is happening and why it constitutes fraud.
  2. Know your rights under the False Claims Act (FCA). The FCA governs COVID-19 fraud claims.
  3. Consult with an experienced whistleblower lawyer. An attorney with experience filing qui tam claims can help you take the appropriate action.

Contact Our COVID-19 Fraud Whistleblower Lawyers for Immediate Help

At Guttman, Freidin & Celler, our whistleblower rights attorneys have deep experience handling state and federal False Claims Act cases, including COVID-19 fraud claims. You may be entitled to compensation. Give us a call or send us a message online for a free, confidential assessment of your case. We provide legal representation to whistleblowers in Florida and nationwide.



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