A Texas man who blew $1.6 million in coronavirus relief loans on himself — buying a $233,000 Lamborghini, a $2,000 trip to a strip club, and a $14,000 Rolex — was sentenced to more than nine years in prison for the scam.
Federal prosecutors announced Monday that Lee Price III, 30, of Houston — using the name of a person who died shortly before the application — filed fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loan applications with multiple banks around the country using much of it on luxury items and to pay off his debts.
He was slapped with 110 months on wire fraud and money laundering counts, the Department of Justice said. He pleaded guilty in September.
"After he received the PPP loan funds, Price spent the money on, among other purchases, a Lamborghini Urus, a Ford F-350 truck, a Rolex watch, and to pay off a loan on a residential property," the DOJ said in its announcement.
NBC News reported the splurge also included a night on the town at a Houston-area strip club.
Lee's supposed businesses had no record of employees or payroll, prosecutors said, and the Justice Department said it seized more than $700,000 of the funds Price received.
"Mr. Price hopes that others will learn from his reckoning that there is no easy money," his lawyer, Tom Berg, told NBC News. "He has the balance of the 110-month sentence to reflect, repent, and rebuild his misspent life."
The program has been bedeviled by fraud attempts.
"Since the inception of the [Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security] Act, the Fraud Section has prosecuted over 150 defendants in more than 95 criminal cases and has seized over $75 million in cash proceeds derived from fraudulently obtained PPP funds, as well as numerous real estate properties and luxury items purchased with such proceeds," the Justice Department said.
In March, a Texas man pleaded guilty to obtaining $17 million via fraudulent PPP applications and using the money to buy eight homes and a fleet of cars that included a Bentley convertible, the DOJ said at the time.
About a month later, prosecutors charged a Vermont man with obtaining about $660,000 through fraudulent PPP applications and using some of the money to buy an alpaca farm, The Associated Press reported.
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