A Texas man who spent coronavirus relief funds to feel a little less bored during lockdown is staring down a nine-year prison term after pleading guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. Lee Price III finagled more than $1.6 million in low-interest relief loans, the Associated Press reports, which he spent to pay off a mortgage and buy a couple of cars: an $85,000 Ford F-350 and and Lamborghini Urus.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Price’s scheme involved funneling a little under $1 million through each of two of his businesses (Price Enterprises Holdings and 713 Construction), both of which Price claimed had large payrolls that needed to be covered using emergency funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). While these were ostensibly loans, they were structured to be forgiven if the funds were distributed within 10 calendar days and the borrower applied for forgiveness within 10 months of taking the loan. Provided those criteria were met, it was essentially free money to cover payroll. Price’s employees, however, did not exist.
You’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve heard this story before. Coronavirus really seemed to bring out the Lamborghini fans. A California man was accused of adding one to his garage (along with a Ferrari and Bentley) and plead not guilty earlier this year to charges that he scammed more than $5 million from the PPP. Last year, a Florida man’s scheme to defraud the same program was undone by a hit-and-run accident in the blue Lamborghini Huracán Evo he bought with the proceeds.