Florida state representative resigns after indictment for fraud, money laundering

Joseph Harding is accused of trying to fraudulently obtain $150,000 in pandemic-related small business loans
State Rep. Joseph Harding of Williston accused of wire fraud.
State Rep. Joseph Harding of Williston accused of wire fraud.(Florida State House of Representatives)
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 11:17 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla (WCTV) - Joseph Harding has resigned his seat in the Florida legislature, just one day after he was indicted on federal charges of fraud and money laundering.

“Today, effective immediately, I am resigning from my position as the State Representative of House District 24,” Harding wrote on his Facebook page Thursday.

“When I decided to run in in 2019 for the Florida House, I did so for two simple reasons: I love people, and I love Florida. Today, I am resigning from my position for the same two reasons: I love people, and I love Florida. I believe in Floridians and want what is best for them, and I believe their leaders need not be encumbered by distractions that are mine alone,” Harding wrote.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCTV) – Florida State Representative Joseph Harding is accused of trying to fraudulently obtain $150,000 in pandemic-related small business loans.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the indictment Wednesday. It accuses Harding of trying to fraudulently obtain more than $150,000 in pandemic-related small business loans. The indictment alleges Harding used the names of dormant business entities and created bogus bank statements to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the Small Business Administration between December 2020 and March 2021.

Harding, an Ocala Republican who represents District 24 in the state legislature, posted a statement on his Facebook page Wednesday evening.

“I want the public and my constituents to know that I fully repaid the loan and cooperated with investigators as requested,” the Facebook post said. “On advice from counsel, I will be unable to say anything more specific about the legal proceedings until a later date.”

Harding made a facebook comment about not being guilty for the counts.
Harding made a facebook comment about not being guilty for the counts.(facebook)

Harding entered a not-guilty plea to the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of up to 35 years in prison. His trial is set for January 11, 2023, at the federal courthouse in Gainesville.