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Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ lawmaker pleads guilty to fraud, faces up to 35 years in jail

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COVID-19 relief fraud. Joseph Harding, 35, a Republican, potentially faces up to 35 years in jail.Harding pleaded guilty at a federal court in Gainsville.

The charges were wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements in connection with COVID-19 relief fraud.Prosecutors announced Harding’s indictment last December.

In a statement at the time, the Department of Justice said, “Harding fraudulently obtained and attempted to obtain more than $150,000 in funds from the SBA to which he was not entitled.” It says he applied for financial relief for businesses that had lain dormant.Harding immediately resigned from the House after the indictment.

He took to Facebook to say he pleaded “not guilty” at an initial hearing.“Today, I pleaded not guilty to federal charges that state I improperly obtained and used an EIDL loan issued by the Small Business Administration.

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