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Daughter Of Former Mayor In Broward County Facing Serious Felony Fraud Charges


On January 3rd, 2024, the Miami Herald reported that Richelle Holness —the daughter of the former mayor of Broward, Florida—is facing serious federal felony fraud charges. She is facing a conspiracy to commit wire fraud charge after allegedly defrauding her father’s campaign donors out of thousands of dollars. In this article, our Orlando white collar criminal defense lawyer provides a more detailed account of the allegations and the charges filed in this case.

Allegations: Candidate’s Daughter Embezzled Funds, Obtain Fraudulent COVID Loan

Dale Holness is the former Broward mayor and a previous U.S. congressional candidate. His daughter Richelle Holness is now facing very serious felony criminal charges. She is facing two separate federal felony criminal allegations:

  1. Ms. Holness is accused of misusing campaign funds; and
  2. Ms. Holness is accused of obtaining a fraudulent COVID-19 loan.

Criminal Case #1: Misuse of Campaign Funds

Federal prosecutors allege that from August 2019 to October 2020, Richelle Holness diverted funds from her father’s campaign for personal expenses. She allegedly used these funds to cover things such as liquor, fast food, and airline tickets. According to the complaint, she issued checks and falsified reports to cover up her actions. Prosecutors contend that she then claimed expenses were for campaign-related services.

Criminal Case #2: Fraudulent COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Funds

The situation is further complicated as Richelle Holness also claimed unemployment benefits by falsely stating she lost her job due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, a federal law was passed that provided people access to enhanced unemployment benefits. Unemployment fraud is a serious crime in Florida.

Beyond the alleged unemployment fraud, Ms. Holness is also facing allegations that she attempted to defraud the federal government through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). She sought $300,000 for her South Florida business Holness Consulting, Inc. While she claimed on official paperwork that he had 18 employees and a $120,000 monthly payroll, prosecutors contend that this company did not actually have any employees or any valid payroll expenses.

Defendant is Facing Federal Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud Charge

A federal conspiracy to commit wire fraud is a very serious white collar criminal offense. It involves an agreement between two or more persons to commit wire fraud—and it can be charged even if the fraud itself is not actually completed. Wire fraud refers to any scheme to defraud others of money or property using electronic communications, like phone or internet. Proving intent can be sufficient to get a conviction. If convicted of this white collar offense, a person can face severe penalties, including a lengthy federal prison sentence.

Speak to a White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida

At The Baez Law Firm, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer has the skills and experience to handle the full range of white collar criminal cases, including federal criminal charges. Reach out to us by phone or send us a direct message to arrange your completely confidential initial consultation. With a law office in Orlando, we handle white collar criminal cases throughout Central Florida.



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